Disability workers stop-work in Newcastle, video

Disability workers at Wheeler Place. Pic: Phil Hearne

Disability workers at Wheeler Place. Pic: Phil Hearne

HUNTER disability workers have called on the state government to come clean about their futures at a demonstration in Hunter Street today.

About 100 workers, as well as parents and union supporters, turned out at a stop work meeting organised by the Public Service Association.

They were demonstrating their opposition to state government plans to transfer NSW government-run disability services to the private sector once the roll-out of the NDIS is complete.

Standing in the crowd was Michael Grant, Hunter branch president for the NSW Nurses and Miswives Association, he said staff at the Stockton Centre were ‘‘hugely upset and full of angst’’ about the fate of the people in their care.

‘‘When you look at what is being taken out it’s going to leave a huge deficit of care,’’ he said.

‘‘The government says this is about choice; but the people at the Stockton Centre no longer have the choice to remain there.’’

Addressing the crowd, Steve Turner, the acting general secretary of the NSW PSA, said carers could see a ‘‘tragedy unfolding’’ as services were transferred to more tightly financed not-for-profits.

Nola Williams, whose story was featured on the front page of the Newcastle Herald last year, said she was ‘‘frightened’’ at what the future held for her 55-year-old son Geoffrey once state care was removed.

The PSA has continued to ramp up action as the government pushes on with the changes, and at the demonstration union delegates read out work bans passed at a meeting last week.

They included directing disability workers not to complete vehicle logs and non-client related ministerial and briefing notes. 

DISABILITY workers in Newcastle and the Hunter will stop work for an hour at midday, protesting state government plans to transfer NSW government-run disability services to the private sector.

Public Service Association acting general secretary Steve Turner said on Tuesday morning the government’s emphasis on offering more choice was misleading.

‘‘The government’s rhetoric focuses on increasing choice of care, but the hard reality is that choice and quality services will be dramatically cut by completely removing ADHC - the largest and most experienced disability service provider - from the picture,’’ he said.

‘‘The current government services which provide some of the most high-level, expensive care, will not simply continue in the private sector. 

"Instead, they will be based on cost and business models rather than the specialised needs of clients.’’

The state government intends to retreat from offering services once the NDIS rollout is complete, handing the reins to private non-government organisations. 

The government says this is the preferred option of consumers, but the industry disagrees.

‘‘Many experienced carers, whose pay and conditions are to be slashed under privatisation, can already see this tragedy unfolding for their clients and are leaving the sector,’’ Mr Turner said.

The protest coincides with Newcastle City Council workers rallying in Civic Park at midday.

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