No cash left for Saturday care as council axes disability services

Geelong city council will stop providing disability services on Saturdays as it continues to struggle with the National Disability Insurance Scheme funding model.

The council’s community services general manager, Jenny McMahon, said it had no money left in the budget to offer services, including respite, on Saturdays.

She said existing clients would be covered in the short term while the council tried to find another provider.

The City of Greater Geelong has also stopped accepting new clients and will not provide any more additional services, including unscheduled respite, to existing ­clients.

“Council resolved in March 2014 that it would ­remain a provider to the NDIA to the extent that costs were covered,” Ms McMahon said. “In addition to the in-kind budget being fully subscribed, the NDIA draw- down rate for Saturday work does not fully cover council’s costs.”

About 420 clients will still have access to some council services, but many will need to enlist other providers to get their full range of entitled NDIS services.

Some families have raised concerns about the difficulty of lining up another organisation and the stress caused to disabled people who have had the same carer for many years.

Ms McMahon said the problem could be solved if the NDIA deregulated its pricing so all providers could charge according to their costs.

“The situation is regrettable and unsettling for families and our staff,” she said.

An NDIA spokeswoman said the transitional service price was decided in consultation with National Disability Services, the peak body for service providers, based on expert advice.

“Any decision to grow or withdraw from service provision is a decision that only that provider can make,” the spokeswoman said.

“Nevertheless, the role of Geelong council in supporting people with disability over many years is very much respected and we remain committed to working with the council and other providers to ensure there remains high quality and choice in support options.”

A letter was sent to carers last week informing them of the changes to council services.

Geelong council is not the only local organisation to have concerns with the NDIA set-pricing model.

Karingal and St Laurence have both said the rates are too low to cover their costs.

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National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Nicole Mills

Geelong Advertiser

Date published:
Tue 23rd Sep, 2014