THE scope of the state government’s disability services shake-up is increasing with confirmation that the Home Care Service of NSW is also being privatised.
As the Newcastle Herald has reported in recent weeks, the scale of changes under the National Disability Insurance Scheme has caught many by surprise.
Families of people living at the Stockton, Tomaree and Kanangra (Morisset) residential care centres are fighting plans to transfer their operations – along with hundreds of government-run group homes – to the private sector.
And now, after a briefing last week given to Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, the government has confirmed that Home Care is also being privatised.
Mr Piper, who wants the relevant legislation – the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill – put on hold until next year, said the government was legislating first and consulting second.
A spokesman for Disability Services Minister John Ajaka said on Monday that services provided by Home Care to the over-65s were funded by the federal government until 2015.
‘‘This has created a need for NSW to transfer Home Care as a priority, in order to provide certainty for clients and staff,’’ Mr Ajaka’s spokesman said.
‘‘The government, through the NDIS enabling bill, is acting now to ensure experienced staff remain employed in the sector and that services are there for those who need them.’’
He said the transition would only take place after ‘‘a lengthy period of consultation with staff, clients, families and unions’’.
Public Service Association organiser Paul James said news that Home Care was being privatised as part of the NDIS was a shock to everyone.
‘‘This is a public sector system employing 4500 people working with 50,000 clients through 43 branches and 120 locations providing 4million support hours a year,’’ Mr James said.
‘‘It provides domestic assistance, personal care and respite care as well as meals, transport, shopping and home maintenance.
‘‘It keeps thousands of people out of hospital beds by allowing them to be cared for in their homes.
‘‘This is no way that people in this sector expected they would be caught up in the NDIS.
‘‘This is privatisation by stealth, and it’s deplorable.’’