Federal Minister for Employment Participation Kate Ellis launches Three Sistas in Cairns
THERE'S a transformation under way at the ramshackle resort that used to be known as Mates Place, and the renovators hope the lives of the tenants will change as much as their homes.
Three Sistas, a new social accommodation enterprise, has taken over the neglected buildings with the help of a $450,000 loan from the Australian Government.
It’s the first loan approved under the Social Enterprise Development and Investment Fund scheme, which gives money to deserving initiatives that would struggle to find adequate funding elsewhere.
Three Sistas co-founder Janet Guthrie said tenancy at the low-cost resort dropped when the new regime took over six weeks ago and imposed tougher house rules, including a grog ban.
But she said the 68 apartments were now at capacity, and the new system was "working a treat".
"We’re taking the resort from a place of poverty and despair to a place of opportunity and access," Ms Guthrie said.
"We’re breaking the mentality that it’s a dumping ground."
The revamp of the McLachlan St site is ongoing and has so far yielded 36 skips full of garbage.
Ms Guthrie said tenants would enter and leave the resort supported by local social welfare agencies, and the accommodation would operate under a "support and empowerment model".
"So if we all play our part, we should see some improvements to the tenants’ wellbeing," she said.
Federal Minister for Employment Participation, Kate Ellis, was in Cairns yesterday to formally launch Three Sistas.
"We need to support those organisations in our community who are achieving amazing outcomes but find it hard to find funding," she said.
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Enterprising: Federal Minister for Employment Participation Kate Ellis at the launch of Three Sistas, which offers socially disadvantaged and indigenous people affordable accommodation. Picture: MIKE WATT