Two disability advocacy services, in Ballina and Alstonville, are in danger of being wiped out by proposed funding cuts by the NSW Government.
The cuts are expected to take place from June 2018 and will impact on Ability Advocacy in Alstonville and DAISI advocacy service in Ballina.
Ability Advocacy manager Doug Hollingworth said his service employed six people who supported about 120 people with disabilities.
‘These cuts would mean we would mean the loss of 2 staff members and we’d be forced to stop providing support to 40-50 people with disabilities who will have nowhere else to turn,’ Mr Hollingworth said.
‘We know how important our services are to local families and people with disabilities across the North Coast who will suffer as a direct result of these cuts.’
DAISI chief executive Joanne Mclean said the cuts would mean a ‘dramatic loss of staff and the closure of our shopfront in Ballina.
‘We are applying for grants and doing what we can to try and keep providing services to people with disability, but the reality is that unless the State Government maintains disability advocacy funding, our organisation is on the edge of survival,’ Ms Mclean said.
Greens Disability spokesperson Dawn Walker has called on the NSW Premier and North Coast Nationals MP Ben Franklin to intervene.
”This is a Government that likes to crow about budget surpluses, but shows its true colours when it refuses to fund essential disability services,’ Ms Walker said.
‘They use the transition to the NDIS as cover for these cuts, but other states like Victoria have stepped in to ensure that their disability advocacy funding will be maintained, despite the NDIS rollout. NSW must do the same.’
‘I’m calling on the NSW Premier and National Party MP, Ben Franklin to show some heart and reverse these cruel cuts to ensure DAISI and Ability Advocacy retain their funding beyond 2018 so they can continue to support people with a disability from the Tweed down to Grafton’.
Ms Walker said the looming funding cuts had occurred because the State Government was rolling its disability advocacy services funding, worth $13 million state-wide, into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
However, the NDIS does not cover advocacy services, leaving a major funding gap for NSW’s disability advocacy services that will impact nearly 50 disability advocacy services in NSW, many in regional NSW.