Sandhurst supporters rally in Melbourne

THERE was a positive and upbeat atmosphere in the air on the steps of Parliament House yesterday, as more than 80 people marched to protest the closure of a Bendigo disability institution.

A petition in the form of 'Certainty for Sandhurst' cards were presented to Bendigo MPs Maree Edwards and Jacinta Allan by a group of Sandhurst Centre workers and their supporters at noon on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne.

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Lloyd Williams said about 40 people travelled from Bendigo to protest against the closure of the centre. 

"Some staff from the centre took annual leave so they could attend," he said.

“The government is constantly saying they are consulting but never answering the key questions of where the residents will live in the future, whether the carers residents have known all their life will go with them and whether the workers will have a job at all."

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the rally was "fantastic".

"A busload of people came along," she said. 

"I think that shows how determined these people are.

"Even after 300 days of no response from the minister (Mary Wooldridge) I think their (the protesters) willingness to come all the way to Melbourne demonstrates how important this is to them.

"Hopefully this petition with more than 3000 signatures will make the government sit up and take notice.

"The reality is that there is a lot of uncertainty at this point." 

The petition will be passed on to Disability Services Minister Mary Wooldridge.

The Sandhurst campaign has attracted statewide attention with disability workers from around Victoria joining the campaign and signing the cards.

The 29 Sandhurst residents will move into community living, with the development of up to five new supported accommodation homes in Bendigo.

merran.reed@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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