Koonawarra mum's video plea to keep Dapto respite centre

Mum Sonia Facey and her son, Nathan, enjoy time on the trampoline. Pictures: ADAM McLEAN

Mum Sonia Facey and her son, Nathan, enjoy time on the trampoline. Pictures: ADAM McLEAN

Koonawarra mother Sonia Facey has sent a video essay of her autistic son, Nathan, to local and state politicians as part of a personal campaign to keep Dapto Respite Centre open.

Ms Facey said she wanted the politicians to see the ‘‘human cost’’ of closing the service, which is one of five NSW centres under review by the state government.

The family have access to 16 days of respite every three months at the Bong Bong Road centre, which employs 10 disability workers and operates 24/7.

‘‘We’ve had access to that respite for two years and it’s so important for my husband and I to get that break, and to be able to spend more time with our two eldest sons,’’ she said. ‘‘I don’t have anyone else I can rely on – I have no family in the Illawarra – and I can’t just book in a babysitter, he needs special attention and care.’’

 Nathan, who has autism, is sometimes cared for at Dapto Respite Centre.

Nathan, who has autism, is sometimes cared for at Dapto Respite Centre.

Nathan, 12, developed epilepsy at 18 months and was diagnosed with autism at four. His condition worsened when he was hit by a car, at age seven.

‘‘We had his condition under control until the accident, which left him with a broken hip and arm but worse of all, he regressed into his autism and stopped talking,’’ Mrs Facey said.

She said there had been a lack of consultation with parents about the review and urged the government to keep the centre operational.

‘‘Under the NDIS, it seems centres like these will be privatised and I am worried that we will not get the same level of access, or care,’’ she said.

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson, who received Mrs Facey’s video, said the review had created uncertainty for the centre’s clients.

‘‘There shouldn’t be any decisions made about the future of this centre until the NDIS has been fully implemented in this region,’’ Ms Watson said.

However, NSW Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka said the purpose of the review was to provide a range of flexible respite options in conjunction with non-government organisations.

‘‘It will mean that people with disabilities will have, for the first time, the right to choose where they want to obtain their respite – it will no longer be a matter of the government dictating where they must go,’’ he said.

Mr Ajaka said the review would not result in a reduction in funding, or respite hours available.

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