'We're seeing the crack appearing': union fears for quality of disability care

PEOPLE with a disability relying on care and respite services could face fewer and lower quality offerings into the future, according to the Central West Community Union Alliance.

Last year, Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) staff were told the organisation would be privatised and there would be no state government involvement in disability services by 2018. 

The alliance’s co-convener, Joe Maric, said the winding down of ADHC in recent years had already led to a reduction in on-site, in-home and respite services, and private providers in rural and regional areas had struggled to pick up the slack.

“We are already seeing the cracks appearing ... with the number of excursions for clients being cut, inadequate staff-to-client ratios, insufficient infrastructure and resources to service clients’ needs, all in a bid to reduce operating costs, but at what cost to clients?” he said.

“The cut, cut, cutting away at disability services, I despair for the ordinary, decent, hard-working taxpaying parents and carers  who will not be getting anywhere near the level or quality of respite care required.”

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He said the alliance opposed the ADHC’s privatisation because employees were rewarded more for their work and service standards were more closely scrutinised in the public system.

“It’s always been the same thing when services get privatised - job losses, cuts to services and increased fees,” he said. “I can’t see how any of this would be different.

“Given the current climate with the job crisis, this industry is going to be growing and we should be trying to incorporate the job losses in that.”

Mr Maric also said looming cuts to the National Disability Insurance Scheme had contributed to the shortfall because providers had planned for the NDIS and were now having to cut back.

“They have to make it cost-effective,” he said.

Do you live with a disability, or care for someone who does, and have difficulty in accessing services? Visit centralwesterndaily.com.au or email danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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