The shake-up of the disability support sector through the NDIS is likely to result in 20 jobs being lost in Tumut, as the NSW government is removing all funding from information and advocacy service IDEAS.
IDEAS has been operating out of Tumut since the 1980s, and CEO Diana Palmer said she is still desperately campaigning for the Berejiklian government to change their minds, before the funding cut-off date of June 30, 2018.
“The government need to reverse their decision, that’s what needs to be done,” she said.
“People with disability who live in NSW have the right to access good quality independent information, and to ensure that their rights and their voices are heard, but it wont happen if we don’t have advocacy and information services.”
IDEAs is being axed because it isn’t a direct service provider for people with disabilities – providing medical care, help around the house, etc. – it provides information, to help them navigate the complex web of government and private disability services.
They current connect with 500,000 people a year through their website, and 2,500 over the phone.
Ms Palmer said demand from people seeking independent information has increased since the rollout of the NDIS; a rollout that has been confusing at best for those it is meant to be helping.
Information and advocacy services aren’t funded through the NDIS, they are jointly funded through the state and federal governments. The federal government is continuing to support the services it currently funds, and the other service’s futures differ state by state.
Victoria is continuing to fund services like IDEAS located down south, but NSW is not.
Ms Palmer said that means some areas of regional NSW will have information services and others won’t, depending on whether or not they are funded by the federal government or the state.
“It’s really patchy and it comes down to where you live, which is not what the NDIS is about at all,” she said.
“One of the issues we really have is that the NSW government have stepped away at a crucial time for people with disabilities. The demand for our services has increased, the demand for other advocacy services has increased as well, and the government has chosen this time to step away from it.”
She said they are exploring other business models, but IDEAS currently gets 95 per cent of its funding from the NSW government.
Staff are obviously disappointed, but are holding up well in the face of likely unemployment within a year.
“We have really good staff, they are really committed to what they’re doing and really believe in the services we provide,” said Ms Palmer.
“I’m really proud of them, none of them have wavered. They want to make sure people get the best they can out of the NDIS.”
NSW Minister for Disability Services Ray Williams said the government was putting billions into supporting people with disabilities.
“In 2018-2019, the NSW Government will provide $3.2 billion and the Federal Government will contribute $3.3 billion in funding for the NDIS, providing a record $6.5 billion for people with disability in NSW,” he said.
“The NSW Government has provided $10.6 million over 3 years for advocacy providers until 30 June 2018 and $1.5 million in additional funding specifically to assist advocacy organisations transition to the NDIS.
“Further, the NSW Government provided an additional $1.7 million to existing disability advocacy services to meet extra demand during the NDIS transition. “Advocacy providers have received record funding to help prepare themselves and people with disability for this major reform.
“Next year (July 2018) the Federal Government will take full responsibility for the provision of services on behalf of people with disability who have entered the NDIS.”