22 October, 2021
Somerset offers disability lifeline
IT MAY not be the big win they have been fighting for, but a group of families have scored a victory in the battle to find a permanent home in Kilcoy.
Somerset Regional Council voted last week to offer the group the short term use of the Kilcoy Memorial Hall, while the council investigates the viability of creating a long term facility at Kay Avery Place.
While the council vote was unanimous, individual councillors were critical of State and Federal Governments for abandoning the group, and leaving it to the council to find a solution.
Cr Bob Whalley was adamant the council would not ignore the plight of residents, but he was equally vocal that higher levels of government should have stepped in sooner.
“I don’t think this is a council space, this is a State and Federal space, they put millions of dollars yearly into this sector,” Cr Whalley said.
“I strongly resent the State not pulling its weight, and I want to make this clear, this is not a responsibility of this council. but, we will go out of our way to make sure there is no gaping hole in the our community.”
Cr Whalley’s concerns were echoed by Cr Cheryl Gaedtke, who said the council needed to look after its residents.
“I have spoken with the families, they are very upset with the loss of a faciity that was partially funded by the community,” Cr Gaedtke said.
“We need to speak up on behalf of those 10 clients, they really need that service.
“I agree with Cr Whalley, but they are still our people, our residents, who are asking for our help.”
Gail Close, one of the families impacted by the Anglicare decision to withdraw from disability services completely, thanked the council for its help.
“Yes, we are happy, because there doesn’t seem to be any other option,” Mrs Close said.
“They (council) have done that to advocate for the community.”
Mrs Close said while the group of 10 residents want to stay together, the short timeframe may see the group split apart.
“We’ve been talking with a group from Caboolture, but they are not getting answers from their head office.
“While ALARA, from Toogoolawah, is our preferred option, we are still seeing if they meet all the needs for our daughter.”
Mrs Close said if they were forced to split apart from the other group members, they would certainly face an increase in the cost of support.
“If we go to single care, we will not only be facing an increased cost of care, but there is also the increased cost of transport.”
The family can apply to the NDIS for an increase in her daughter’s care funding package, but there was no guarantee it would be approved.
“If this cannot be resolved by November 30, our daughter will lose her social contact, and there is also the loss of respite care for our whole family.
“The optimal solution is a local solution, that is for sure.”
Shayne Neumann, Federal MP for Blair, congratulated the council for standing up for th ecommunity, even though disability care is not a local government responsibility.
Mr Neumann congratulated Lyn Buchanan, the council’s Social Development Co-ordinator for her efforts, saying she had a ‘good win’.
“Good on Somerset Regional Council for doing this, that’s a really good outcome, they do a jolly good job there are good people on the council,” Mr Neuman said.