More than 300 members of the community gathered with nurses and family members to discuss the privatisation of all public disability services in New South Wales by 2018, under the guise of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Lamp reports the views of some of the speakers at Newcastle Panthers.
Brett Holmes — General Secretary NSWNMA
“Over the past few months it is with unfolding horror that we’ve realised that a scheme [National Disability Insurance Scheme] that was to be celebrated has become a point of major concern for nurses who work in the disability sector.
By fully privatising the disability sector without stakeholder and community input, this government has clearly stated the intention to drown out the voices of the most vulnerable citizens and their spokespeople.
Where is the choice for those currently in ageing and disability home care facilities, who are happy with the choice of public provision? How are the disabled with serious disabilities or challenging behaviours able to make an informed choice? Where is the choice for the nurses and others who want to remain in the public system, but instead are being coerced into a private entity?
Shouldn’t the real choice be the choice between public provision and a private entity, between highly qualified nursing care and a care setting that might not even include qualified nurses? What would we choose if we have the choice?
They don’t have a position or a decent plan for how they are going to address the really big issues that we are facing industrially. They are not fulfilling their obligations.”
Wendy Cuneo — Vice President, Stockton Centre Welfare Association
“Some of the residents at Stockton are blind, some of them are deaf and blind some of them can’t move at all and they can’t talk. It’s outrageous to think you can just uproot them and move them. We cannot allow politicians to do this to our people.”
Kate Washington — legal partner at Catherine Henry Partners
“The state government is acting inconsistently with the NDIS principles of independence, inclusion and choice. I don’t think there is anyone in this room that would dispute the fact that who we are talking about tonight are the most vulnerable people in our community and for the workers providing the care to those vulnerable people.
It also runs contrary to every fundamental legal principal whereby we are all autonomous individuals who have the right to make decisions affecting our lives, including who we choose to work for and on what terms.
Forget collective bargaining rights – not even individual bargaining rights are allowed on this occasion.”
Lynne Warner — sister of Kanangra resident of 40 years
“We are all prepared to negotiate if we are given something to consider and if we are given information – but we’re not given anything and that’s why the fear is within us. At a meeting I said to Minister Ajaka, ‘Could you tell me what the plan is?’ and he said ‘it would be negotiated’ and he said ‘there is a 20-year plan to close Morrissett, Stockton and Tomaree’. Now you’re telling me you haven’t got a plan!”
Dr Gillian Evans — GP, Stockton Centre
“I’m one of the five doctors at Stockton Centre and this is the first time I’ve spoken publicly. I know all the doctors are very concerned. When I asked John Ryan [Executive Director ADHC] about some very basic information about his plans and his management and what he would be measuring for the medical care of these people in the community he couldn’t answer my questions at all, basically.
“I was stunned by his ignorance. Absolutely stunned by his own admission. John Ryan says he didn’t really get his head around how complex this situation was. I offered a compromise model – I said what if this goes ahead and these people are relocated in the community: can we keep the medical model in terms of the clinics and the allied health and the doctors, all this expertise that has taken decades and decades? These nurses who have known most of these people from when they were babies. They know what the twinkle in their eye means. I rely on these nurses for their diagnostic skills. Without them I couldn’t do my job.”
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