Ability Links faces the axe


Ability Links is facing a bleak future despite what a consultant has described as its "ground-breaking" delivery of social and economic benefits.

St Vincent de Paul Society piloted the service in the Hunter in 2013-14, and it was quickly rolled out across NSW beside the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Ability Links helps people with a disability to participate in sport, recreation, work, study, volunteering and other activities.

It supports thousands of people, some of whom do not qualify for the NDIS, and employs about 400 staff across various service providers.

A three-year evaluation by consultants Urbis in 2016 praised its contribution to the community.

The report, released two years ago, said Ability Links and an associated Early Links program for those aged under seven were helping 43,533 people a year across NSW, including families and carers.

But it was poised to close on June 30 this year.

That was until a $40 million pre-election reprieve from the state and federal governments "to ensure the same level of service continues to be delivered to people with disability and their families while the NDIA's Information Linkages and Capacity program is fully rolled out".

It was reported in March that the government had agreed on the eve of the state election to tip in another $11.6 million to extend the program beyond June 30 and secured another $20 million from the federal government.

The National Disability Insurance Agency also committed $8.5 million to keep Aboriginal Ability Links running, bringing the total funding commitment to just over $40 million.

But it was never clear how long this funding was meant to last.

It now appears the answer is about four months.