PSA members rally against disability privatisation

PSA members rallied in Sydney on November 13 to protest against the privatisation of disability services.

Hundreds of members of the NSW Public Service Association rallied outside state parliament on November 13 to protest against the government’s privatisation of disability services over the next 12 months.

Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) is part of the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, but the NSW government plans to hand it to the corporate and non-government sector.

ADHC organises a carer to visit the homes of elderly people or people with disabilities to help with day-to-day tasks, such as showering and dressing, as well as cleaning their home. This eases pressure on families.

The Public Services Association says there were no guarantees that the profoundly disabled would continue to receive care from private providers. State assistant general secretary Steve Turner said the government should keep this role.

“Often, the people with higher disabilities ... they often come back to ADHC and if [it] disappears, there's nobody to protect them if they fall through the cracks,” he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald said: “Turner said he feared more than $800 million in public assets, including group homes for people with disabilities, would be ‘gifted’ to the private sector.

“The private sector can't afford these assets and the state government has passed legislation that allows the transfer of assets. All other privatisations have been about the sale of public assets.”

He said if the proposals went ahead staff would have no choice but to be transferred to the private sector and many feared they would lose entitlements.

Turner said staff could be forced to transfer to the private sector: "These workers are being given no choice, no redundancy offer, and the possibility of losing entitlements.

"In other privatisations, including ferries and lotteries, a proper transfer package has been negotiated, with three-year protection of wages, conditions, jobs and a transfer payment. Those workers also had a choice of whether they wanted to go."

Susan Price, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Summer Hill in the March state elections, said: "The privatisation of disability and home care services by the Coalition government in NSW is an absolute scandal.

"It also shows up a severe weakness in the former federal Labor government's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which allows for the sale of disability services to private companies. Already, refugee detention centre operator Serco and private health insurer BUPA have expressed an interest in taking over NSW disability services.

"The Socialist Alliance strongly opposes any privatisation of disability and home care services in NSW or any other state. These vital services should be fully retained in public hands, expanded and fully funded, and run in the interests of the disability community and workers in the sector.”

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