Thursday 12 May 2011

11-hour reprieve sought for financially distraught Lyons House

Yesterday the management committee of Lyons House announced that the organisation’s financial situation did not permit the continued operation and reluctantly notified staff it would cease operating and terminate employment with one week’s notice.

"We are extremely disappointed that Lyons House staff could not be paid out their full entitlements at this time but with the steps we have taken, a safeguard has been put in place to hopefully ensure payment," president of the committee David Couplan-Jones said yesterday.

"We are saddened by the loss of a such a valuable community-based organisation that has provided a much needed resource in the Cairns area for over 35 years," Couplan-Jones said.

Late yesterday Sue Boisen from Congress Community Development and Education Unit met with the committee to discuss emergency support for Lyons House and the retention of some of the current services.

"As a result of Sue Boisen's meeting late yesterday, we have written to Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon and Senator McLucas, and local MPs, to seek urgent support, that may prevent complete closure," Couplan-Jones said.

Boisen was apprised of the current situation that Lyons House is in, with not enough cashflow to pay wages, and needing to terminate all staff contracts at close of business May 16th.

"Ms Boisen discussed the possibility of CCDEU continuing to operate the bulk of Lyons House programs, with funding body permission and new agreements entered into with CCDEU and the funding bodies," David Couplan-Jones said. "We provided financial cash flow and liquidity status and the list of assets owned by the agency. She then followed up with her senior officer, and has authority to explore further with the committee and funding bodies to support the retention of programs and services and the Lyons House premises."

CCDEU already provides a Queensland Indigenous Alcohol Diversion Program in Townsville and are expanding into Cape York, with a view to have a base in Cairns. Two of Lyons House current programs have agreements until June 2012 the QIADP residential rehabilitation program and the Drug and Alcohol Counselling Service both funded by Queensland Health.

Couplan-Jones says the other programs that could continue would be Queensland Communities Drug Court Program and Federal Health and Ageing Residential Rehabilitation.

"If these four programs were retained, some staff could be retained also and there would be no disruption to the clients," Couplan-Jones said. "I realise this is very late in the day, however if there is a will to continue with a scaled down suite of services, the Lyons House committee would do whatever we could to hand over the programs and assets to CCDEU, with the full support of the Dept of Health and Ageing; Queensland Health and Communities."

Couplan-Jones says CCDEU realise they may need to provide resources to cover the shortfall.

"These issues will need to be worked through with the funding bodies, the committee and CCDEU. There are substantial assets that would be transferred that could offset the need to provide an initial cash injection."

They have asked the Health Minister to consider this option "favourably for the welfare of the clients’ and the retention of many of the excellent staff."

"The alternative is to disrupt and destabilise clients, lose a valuable community resource for the Cairns region and the services of many good staff, both indigenous and non-indigenous," Couplan-Jones says.

Meanwhile, on John Mackenzie's 4CA talkback radio show yesterday, MP for Leichhardt Warren Entsch was scathing about the demise of Lyons House, and took aim at Cairns Regional Councillor Diane Forsyth, who was a former director and currently is a member of the committee. Forsyth is a member of the Labor Party, whilst Entsch is a member of the Liberal National Party.

"Di Forsyth and her mob need to be removed," Warren Entsch said. "And former CEO Margaret Renfrey and John Ellis reinstated. Forsyth lead a group of unprofessional people with no qualifications which tried to often interfere."

"The committee has been unable to answer a list of questions from Government agencies," Entsch said. "The same people involved in the misappropriation of funds at Douglas House, are involved with the Lyons House issue."

Entsch said clients are "petrified" that their personal records will be given to the management committee.

"The committee was reported to the Police for trying to hack into the computers with a butter knife. The CMC is investigating inappropriate dealings, particularly in relation to Councillor Diane Forsyth."

The president of the management committee, David Couplan-Jones slammed the mis-management of the two sacked managers, Margaret Renfrey and John Ellis, who he says, withheld vital information the board requested. They are seeking an extra six months redundancy payout. This is on top of the three months already received. The cost to Lyons House would be $85,000.


Nicky J said...

While I don't know a great deal about computer hacking, if I was going to give it a go a butter knife wouldn't be my tool of choice.

Does anyone know how far the committee got with their butter knife hack?

Unknown said...

It's a common mistake by beginner hackers to go straight for the butter knife. Perhaps due to it's popularity around the dinner table and lack of experience with proper tools.

For those new to hacking I'd recommend the appropriately named tool ~