THE head of Victoria’s top council body has warned that the elderly and vulnerable will be worse off under changes to home and community care programs.
The region’s mayors met with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) yesterday in Warrnambool to discuss local issues in the federal election lead-up.
Councils are concerned about changes to the home and community care program (HACC) that will remove councils as the chief operator of the service.
MAV chairman Bill McArthur said councils looked after up to 290,000 older Victorians a year but hadn’t been included in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) deal.
“When the NDIS was signed, the state government didn’t take into account that local government was the major contributor to home and community care in Victoria,” Cr McArthur said.
The elderly or anyone needing care will be left to find a service themselves, potentially placing them at risk because of the confusion.
“People will be deemed eligible for a package and then told to find their own provider. I wouldn’t like to see my poor old mum have to go out and find it,” he said.
Cr McArthur said he supported the NDIS but wanted “the federal government to recognise the provision of the service here in Victoria”.
Responsibility for the home and community care program will transfer to the Commonwealth from July 2015 as part of the NDIS deal.
Warrnambool City Council saw about 1822 clients last financial year, for everything ranging from personal care to mowing lawns.
It also delivered about 25,000 meals.
Mayor Michael Neoh voiced similar worries that clients would become confused by having to search for services on their own.
“You see non-profits and government agencies come and go but local government is always on the ground,” Cr Neoh said.
“We could lose potential funding and we have the staff and the infrastructure in place.”