Whan wades in on care services

STATE upper house member Steve Whan has called on the O'Farrell Government to intervene in Queanbeyan Council's use of the former Home and Community Care (HACC) centre.

The centre had been used as a base for aged and disability care staff and programs prior to the transition of those services over to state and federal providers in July. Council is now converting the centre to office space.

However Mr Whan said in Parliament last week that because the State Government funded 40 per cent of the facility, it should either call for the money to be returned or negotiate a way to maintain a permanent facility for HACC clients in Queanbeyan.

"Queanbeyan's HACC Centre used to be the envy of many communities. It gave a consistent central location for elderly and disabled clients who were able to use its facilities and enjoy a welcoming and familiar environment," Mr Whan said.

"We are losing that wonderful resource and my concern is that under the new model clients will go from place to place depending on which organisation has the contract.

"It seems to me at the very least Queanbeyan rate payers would like to have been asked if they were willing to keep having their rates used to offer this facility," he said.

Council general manager Gary Chapman confirmed this week that Council had budgeted to refund the State its 40 per cent stake in the building.

Meanwhile, Queanbeyan Councillor Brian Brown also criticised the Council for transitioning the services without consulting the public. He said at this week's Council meeting that the decision was made "in secret and behind closed doors," and called for Council to instigate an "independent review into the provision of these services," with a view to "bring them back to a standard the community expects."

"The concerns being expressed now should have had the opportunity to be expressed well before any changes were made," Mr Brown said.

"At last year's local government elections, no group or candidates ... campaigned to take the axe to community services. No candidates promised to hive off aged and respite care.

"The fact is that Council had no mandate to make such severe cuts or eliminate completely these valuable services to the community without first consulting the residents of Queanbeyan."

However Mayor Tim Overall said Council had not cut the services, but transitioned them back to their proper funding place with the state and federal providers.

"The views expressed [by Councillor Brown] are totally off line and show what little understanding there is of what has transpired.

"This is all about council's decision to transition services. We advised funding bodies as of June 30 unless there was future funding to assist council, council could no longer provide subsidy for services.

"There was no 'cuts', 'flogging off', no 'elimination', no 'cut offs'," he said.

And local member for Monaro, John Barilaro, rejected an assertion from Steve Whan this week that he'd been 'missing in action' on the services transition. Mr Barilaro said he'd raised the issue with colleagues at the federal level.

"As aged care is a responsibility the Federal Government, I am somewhat limited as a State MP to achieve a meaningful change in this area," Mr Barilaro said.

"However, I have raised the matter with our Federal Representative, Peter Hendy, as well as my Federal National Party colleagues."

"It is all well and good for Mr Whan to claim the NSW Government should do something about this federal issue; perhaps he would also have me fly to Jakarta to mediate a diplomatic reconciliation."

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