State disability services set to be privatised under NSW Enabling Bill 2013

UNDER new state legislation, public disability services that fall under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be privatised by 2018.

The NSW Enabling Bill approved last month allows the state government to transfer these services and their assets to the private sector.

Public institutions, such as the Stockton Centre that delivers 40 per cent of the state’s disability care with 462 beds, are set to close under the bill.

Australian Disabled Access Consultants (ADAC), which provides the staff and resources to these institutions, will also be shut.

The bill states staff wages and employment conditions will remain the same and the state government will assist their transition into the private sector.

Last Wednesday, more than 150 people gathered at a community forum held by the Public Services Association of NSW at Newcastle Panthers to discuss the changes.

Lake Macquarie state MP Greg Piper and Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery were on the question panel.

Mr Piper said the bill highlighted a move away from traditional care in residential homes and was a money-saving exercise at the expense of some of the state’s most vulnerable people.

‘‘This is about divesting the state government of any responsibility to deliver services in NSW,’’ he said.

By 2018 state government service providers will be phased out.

However, the NDIS and the new bill will give people with disabilities and their carers the power to choose their own care with federal money allocated directly to them instead of through the state government and its agencies.

MARY Engelman wants answers.

Last week, she attended a community forum on state changes to disability care hoping to find them, but left with a heavy heart.

Her 69-year-old brother, Peter Scroop, is intellectually disabled with the mental capabilities of a three year old and also has bipolar.

For the past 24 years, Mr Scroop has lived in a residential home at Fennell Bay, where he receives 24-hour care.

As Mr Scroop’s guardian, Mrs Engelman said the state government’s decision to privatise public disability services concerned her.

Having been around the same staff and people for so long, Mrs Engelman feared if her brother had to move under the new legislation, his behaviour would change drastically.

‘‘The ADAC [Australian Disabled Access Consultants] staff there have managed him and they have managed him well,’’ Mrs Engelman said.

‘‘I’m worried if he is transferred to the private sector with unfamiliar staff and surroundings, they won’t be able to manage him if he turns violent. He’s only well-behaved for the people he knows.’’

At 69, it is likely Mr Scroop will be moved to an aged care facility.

‘‘Our only hope is people power,’’ she said.

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