Profound disabilities miss out again

The recurrent funding farce related to the specialized respite facility, Nardy House, continues. The respite facility designed to meet the respite needs of people with profound disabilities has sat idle, fully equipped and ready for use, since April 2005. The present Minister for the Department of Ageing, Disability and Homecare, Kristina Keneally, has said she will fund the facility if the Nardy House Committee opens the doors to people with lesser disabilities.

Nardy House has always been about the highest level of disability. We were given assistance by the Department to build a very specialized facility that would provide twenty-four hour/ seven-day a week, centre based respite to people with very high support needs. We were promised recurrent funding for the same at the time of the initial grant. When the building was completed we received a further grant to help set up the facility; there can be no doubt that the Department and the Ministry knew what that the money was directed to the highest level of need.

The reason Nardy House has not been funded is directly related to the level of need. People with profound disabilities are not going to be funded and the new Minister has finally let the cat out of the bag with her contention that she will fund the facility if people with lesser disabilities can use it. The run around, that the Committee and the Bega Valley community and carers have been given because of this project, relates to the fact that the Department will do anything it can to avoid funding people with high level needs. The Department will undertake expensive and protracted exercises related to submissions, mediations and developing unworkable contractual agreements. Government Ministers will posture with unverifiable reasons for non-funding in Budget Estimates Committee Hearings or claim that unsubstantiated funding offers have been made, yet when it comes to the crunch the lack of funding is really about the level of disability.

The Minister’s advisers have obviously not informed her that the facility’s use is constrained by a Trust Deed. This Trust Deed has an overriding tenet that limits its use to people with very high support needs whose physical abilities are limited and to people requiring assistance with every facet of daily living. Further the Minister obviously is unaware of the physical layout, features and location of the facility or she would realize the inappropriate nature of her funding proposition. It is obviously time for the Minister to visit the facility

Recent media commentary related to the lack of respite provision has centred on comments supposedly made by a Liberal Minister to one of her constituents regarding service provision. The media has not concentrated on the actual plight of carers in desperate need of respite. Carers whose need is so great are willing to undertake action with tragic consequences.

In the Bega Valley we have not given way to despair. The community, the Council, the Nardy House Committee and carers of people with disabilities have taken the generous land donation of the Hilton family and erected a specialized world-class facility. The facility is for the provision of a high level service that can not be given elsewhere; it is a first for a NSW rural community.’ She concluded by saying.

The Minister has a real choice. She can partner the Nardy House Committee in a fair and equitable manner and fund the needs of people with profound disabilities or she can continue to stymie this project, because the decision has been made: people with high