Oct 23, 2017

NSW disability services privatisation a ticking social bomb – report

PSA media release

A parent’s harrowing story of how her son escaped private disability care four times during his first three days cannot be ignored by the Government says the Public Service Association (PSA).

The shocking impact of privatisation on the sector has been revealed today in a report, Taking Back Control: A Community Response to Privatisation which comes after an independent panel toured the country to speak directly to parents.

“For crucial public disability services in NSW – the clock is ticking,” PSA General Secretary Stewart Little said.

“In less than 12 months time, in June 2018, the NSW Government will have completely wiped its hands of all responsibility for disability care, leaving NSW the only state in Australia with no Government safety net.

“What does it say about a Government that, knowing the free fall scenario that awaits, presses ahead with turning its back on such a crucial community service?”

The report includes harrowing testimony from a number of parents including Sonia Facey who attended the Inquiry hearing out of ‘extreme concern’ for the future of her son Nathan who is autistic, has stopped speaking and is prone to violent outbursts.

She told the panel the private sector couldn’t guarantee her son’s safety, putting its workers above his care and well being:  “Nathan went in on a Tuesday and that night he escaped and was in Aldi and wouldn’t leave until I got there. Next morning I get another call, he is in Aldi again. (After re-assurance from the private operator Sonia went away for 2 days) I left it in their hands but stressing totally over the safety of my child. When I got back (after being away) I found Nathan was in Aldi again on the Wednesday night and on the Thursday morning he had gone to Dapto Mall. He managed to get away four times in the first three days. He was jumping the fence and all they could do was follow as they are not allowed to touch him for his own safety. Never mind his safety having to cross the train line and two busy roads to get to Aldi and also having to cross the Princes Highway to get to Dapto Mall.”

In the report Sonia says: “The safety of my son is the biggest priority and with all the issues that have arisen already, my confidence in private disability providers is extremely lacking. Looking forward, I don’t see a very positive future for my son without government services…When I can no longer look after [Nathan], I fear as to where he is going to end up.”

The PSA says under the NDIS there will not be enough money nor capacity to properly assist people with disability.

“Many will fall through the cracks and land heavily in the state’s hospitals and even the criminal justice system – areas lacking expertise in specialist disability care,” Mr Little said.

“Their families are wonderfully resilient people but they are now desperate for answers and certainty from a Government seemingly determined to provide neither.

“NSW Disability Services Minister Ray Williams is presiding over the greatest social tragedy NSW has ever seen.”

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