Disability staff rally for job security

SANDHURST Residential Services staff and supporters weathered 38 degree heat to rally in Rosalind Park yesterday.

Chanting “All I want for Christmas is some certainty” in front of the Rosalind Park Christmas tree,  about 50 people rallied to present the Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards with a petition of 3000 signatures.

The ageing Sandhurst centre, which houses 29 people with disabilities and has 80 staff, will close over the next three years.

The State Government has allocated $8 million to rehome the residents in the community.

Sandhurst centre staff and the Health and Community Sector Union (HACSU) say they support the closure but have criticised the Government for not consulting and leaving staff and residents up in the air.

Ms Edwards said she would present the petition to Disability Services Minister Mary Wooldridge in Parliament in February.

HACSU state secretary Lloyd Williams said it was 232 days since the closure announcement.

“They are doing a planning process but we don’t know where the residents are going to go, who the service provider will be, where the houses will be located,” Mr Williams said.

“But very importantly, what the families and the residents want is certainty that they will get continuity of support and care.”

Ms Edwards said that meant retaining staff who had been working with the residents for many years.

Mr Williams said the union had written several times to Ms Wooldridge seeking urgent talks and never received a reply.

“The sad situation is that the Minister, despite what she says to the media about consulting, she’s  not.

“We’ve written to the Minister now on a number of occasions and we’ve never got a reply."

Yesterday a spokesman for Ms Wooldridge said she had met with staff and a DHS team was working at Sandhurst “to make sure we’re getting the best possible outcome for clients and staff”.

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