Greens lash Liberal-Nationals ‘heartless’ disability advocacy cuts

Greens Disability spokesperson, Dawn Walker MP has lashed out at the NSW Government’s planned cuts to disability advocacy funding that will see a dramatic loss in support for people with a disability on the North Coast and called on the NSW Premier and North Coast Nationals MP, Ben Franklin to urgently intervene.

The looming cuts will take effect from June 2018 and threaten to wipe-out local disability information services, DAISI based in Ballina and Ability Advocacy in Alstonville.

“I’m appalled that NSW Liberal-Nationals think it’s acceptable to cut core funding from our disability advocacy services that assist some of the most vulnerable people in our community with a range of everyday issues, including housing needs, service complaints and developing their NDIS applications and plans.

“These heartless cuts mean organisations like DAISI and Ability Advocacy, which have been assisting people with a disability right across the North Coast for almost 20 years will be forced to massively decrease the number of people they support, lay-off staff and possibly even close altogether. 

Quote from Doug Hollingworth, Manager Ability Advocacy, Alstonville

“We employ 6 staff and support approximately 120 people with disabilities in the local area. 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. 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.

Quote from Joanne Mclean, DAISI CEO, Ballina

“We are facing a huge funding cliff due to these cuts, including 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.

“This is a Government that likes to crow about budget surpluses, but shows its true colours when it refuses to fund essential disability services. 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, said Dawn Walker MP.

“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” said Dawn Walker MP.

The looming funding cuts have occurred because the State Government will roll 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.

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