Clarence to lose NDIS providers

SOME local residents with NDIS packages will be forced to find new assistance as service providers downsize in regional Australia.

In the past month two major disability service providers have announced changes in the Clarence Valley, with the Benevolent Society closing its Grafton office and Australian Unity leaving regional NSW altogether.

The move by Australian Unity comes just three years after the company took on more than 4000 staff and 50,000 aged and disability clients from the NSW Government's Home Care Service of NSW, after winning a tender in 2015.

The organisation would not confirm how many clients it had in the Clarence Valley region.

However Community and Public Sector Union Regional Organiser Asren Pugh said the move by providers was concerning and a direct result of the State Government's decision to privatise all disability services in 2016.

Mr Pugh said members had approached him with concerns that some NDIS clients would lose workers with whom they had formed strong relationships.

"Some of our members have said they have had the same client for 15 years," he said.

"Some clients have said they are really distressed about that because they are afraid they will lose the worker who has been looking after them for 15 years."

In a statement on its website Australian Unity said it would be focusing on provision of aged care services and did "not anticipate the decision to scale down its NDIS business will result in any job losses".

Meanwhile the Benevolent Society has confirmed it will be closing its Grafton office with Coffs Harbour becoming the "primary hub" for the region.

A spokesperson confirmed there would be job losses but the organisation would seek to "minimise the impact of these changes by offering equivalent positions in other parts of our business".

The changes would mean some staff would work from home and with "mobile technology to meet the needs of clients and communities" but no clients would have to look for alternative providers.

In 2017 the Benevolent Society took over the NSW government's handling of clinical services for the disability sector, taking on more than 7000 clients and 700 staff.

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