CLIENTS and union delegates concerned about the future of Stockton Centre were left largely disenchanted following a visit from state Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka on the weekend.
The centre has been slated for redevelopment and privatisation in the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in NSW, and parents of clients are worried about future care and accommodation.
A lack of consultation has been a major reason for the concern with varied reports about what will happen to clients and their carers.
Mr Ajaka was too busy yesterday to take calls but released a prepared statement to the Newcastle Herald.
He said he had met with families on Saturday as well as union delegates – who welcomed him to the centre with protest placards – to try and alleviate the uncertainty.
‘‘Existing facilities at Stockton cannot remain as they are an outdated way of living and do not comply with relevant laws and conventions,’’ he said.
‘‘However, my department will immediately start to consult with families and residents about future accommodation options that will best suit their needs.
‘‘This will take 12 to 18 months and in the meantime nothing will change for the residents.’’
He said people would be given the option to live where they choose, whether that was in Stockton or in other parts of the state.
About 50 members of both the NSW Nurses’ Association and the Public Service Association were also at the centre to protest against impending privatisation.
NSW Nurses’ Association delegate Michael Grant said he briefly met with Mr Ajaka but was left still searching for answers.
‘‘We still don’t know what’s going on,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re disappointed and a lot of families told us they were disappointed as well. Some of them travelled all the way from Coffs Harbour for this. They got bugger all.’’
Mr Grant said Mr Ajaka didn’t answer their questions about what would happen to clients and their level of care.
‘‘He said he couldn’t answer them on the fly and would organise a meeting in Sydney with us soon,’’ he said.
‘‘That’s a positive at least, but we want answers and we want them now.’’