MEMBER for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards today received a petition which will be presented personally to the Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge calling on her to provide certainty for staff, residents, families and carers at the Sandhurst Centre in Bendigo.
Representatives from HACSU and Sandhurst travelled to Melbourne to present the petition on the steps of Parliament, which contained almost 3000 signatures.
Ms Edwards said it was months now since Minister Wooldridge announced the closure of the Sandhurst Centre and still the staff, residents, their families or guardians have been given very little information about their future.
“Everyone involved at Sandhurst would like assurances from the Minister, and the petition calls for some certainty about what the future will be for them”, she said.
“The residents want assurances that they will receive an equivalent standard of care and support that they currently receive at Sandhurst, and the staff want assurances that their jobs are secure into the future with the same salaries and conditions that they currently have.
“The decision to close Sandhurst must be about improving support and care for residents and providing certainty for families and staff. It should not be about cost cutting."
Meanwhile Minister for Disability Services and Reform Mary Wooldridge said Sandhurst’s closure, announced in May last year, would be a carefully managed process scheduled for completion in June 2016.
The 29 Sandhurst residents will move into community living, with the development of up to five new supported accommodation homes in the Bendigo.
Ms Wooldridge said residents, families and staff had been regularly informed throughout the planning for the transition.
“Having met with residents, family and staff, I understand the changes underway at Sandhurst are significant and can create concern, which is why the closure is being planned and managed in such a thorough and consultative manner over a three-year period,” Ms Wooldridge said.
“We have been working individually with each of the 29 residents to understand their needs and living preferences.
"Individualised planning has been completed for all but one resident whose plan was delayed by illness.
“We will also work with service providers to design and develop new options informed by individualised client plans.
“I also met with staff, residents and families at Sandhurst in June last year to hear their questions and concerns.”