Harmony House's battle to keep its funding
A SUNSHINE Coast-based service which has provided a haven for children from families in crisis has had to battle to keep its funding because of its own success in keeping waiting lists to a minimum.
Harmony House recently celebrated 20 years of operation with a lunch to honour supporters, workers and volunteers.
The Sunshine Coast Family Contact Centre, as it is also known, provides a place where children can be handed over by parents in dispute, whether it be a marriage breakdown or a domestic violence situation.
Harmony House now has five centres - at Cotton Tree, Hervey Bay, Caboolture, and Bundaberg, together with Robbie's Place in Gympie.
The driving force behind the centre, Barbara Hanson, told the luncheon funding changes had forced Harmony House to cut some of its workers back to part-time.
Ms Hanson was the lone worker for the first centre 20 years ago, working from the back of her car or in a borrowed room at the Maroochydore Neighbourhood Centre until a building was donated by Sunshine Coast Council.
Ms Hanson shocked some board members when she announced she was taking a year off in 2016.
She has invested her "blood, sweat and tears'' in managing five centres, nearly 30 staff members, volunteers and placement students who look after about 1500 clients.
The service first started after family lawyer Pippa Coleman read an article regarding a similar service in Toowoomba.
Since then it has enjoyed the generous support of several lawyers, as well as organisation like the June Canavan Foundation, which has donated thousands to keep it running.
"When I first came to Harmony House I thought it was a toy shop,'' the opening of an illustrated book celebrating the service tells.
"Then I found out that's it's a Family Contact Centre. It's a safe place for me to meet my Dad and then go to his house to spend time together.''
"I like Harmony House because I get to see my Dad and there is no fighting.''
HOW TO HELP
If you would like to support Harmony House, you can do so via:
Sunshine Coast Family Contact Centre
Account: 530 861
Reference: SCFCC Donation