Privatising NDIS service providers not the solution: PSA

It was very disappointing to read Minister Ajaka’s response to recent protests against the privatisation of Ageing Disability and Home Care (NDIS one of the ‘greatest social reforms this country has seen’: Ajaka, August 5, 2014), not least because the minister misrepresents the concerns of people with disability, their families, carers and ADHC staff.

Contrary to the minister’s claims, there has been no “negative commentary” directed at the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

In fact, the Public Service Association of NSW (PSA) has made it abundantly clear that it fully supports the NDIS.

What the PSA does oppose, however, is the NSW Government using the NDIS as an excuse for the wholesale privatisation of Ageing, Disability and Home Care Services – a move that may put the most vulnerable in our community at the mercy of private providers operating on a cost basis rather than meeting the high-level needs of clients.

The minister claims that the government has been working with unions to protect the entitlements of those workers transferring to private providers.

If only.

The fact is that the Government has pointedly failed to commit to protect any existing conditions.

As for the assertion that choice will increase after privatisation, by Minister Ajaka’s own admission government services make up 40 per cent of ageing disability and home care providers. 

How will removing the largest and most experienced provider of ageing disability and home care services increase choice for clients?

Further, what happens to those clients whose needs are too complex or expensive for the non-government sector to handle?

We have already seen high-needs clients handed back to the government when the new provider finds it can’t cope. If the state government has its way this safety net will be gone entirely.

Illawarra mum Sonia Facey, whose autistic son Nathan attends a government-run respite centre a few days a month, wants assurance that Nathan will be able to continue with the centre-based care he currently receives.

“It is so important to our family to have this time, but no one can tell me if centre-based respite will continue in our area after privatisation,” she says. “I want Nathan to stay where he is. Where’s my choice?”

The NDIS is a wonderful opportunity for government-run services and private providers to work together to give people with disability genuine choice and control. 

Unfortunately Sonia, Nathan and so many others who rely on public disability and home care services will have their “choice” removed by this government's cynical cost-cutting agenda. 

That, minister, is what’s “plain wrong”.

Public Service Association of NSW general secretary Anne Gardiner

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