Sandhurst tender fast-tracked

PROTEST: Workers at Sandhurst Centre at a union meeting outside the property in June. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

PROTEST: Workers at Sandhurst Centre at a union meeting outside the property in June. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

THE Health and Community Services Union says the Department of Human Services is fast-tracking the Sandhurst Centre tender process.

HACSU state secretary Lloyd Williams said the union believed the decision was political.

"DHS has written to us, we believe at the behest of the Napthine Government, saying they will fast-track a tender process, with contracts being signed in the next couple of months," he said in a statement.

"We know why this is happening. If elected, a future Labor Andrews government has committed to oppose contracting out and halt the process.

"The Napthine government is just being totally bloody-minded and is prepared to tear up the normal standards of governance and proper tendering out processes just so it will get its way according to a political timetable."

The Sandhurst Centre is a home for people with disabilities who need to be cared for.

The state government announced last year that the centre would be closed within three years.

It has committed $7.9 million to build new accommodation homes for residents, which would provide them with greater independence.

The centre is one of two remaining government-run disability institutions in Victoria.

The centre has always been run by the department but services will now be outsourced to a private service provider.

The tender process regards the new service provider.

The union is concerned the new provider will offer lower paying, less qualified positions to staff the centre.

In a statement, Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge confirmed the government was speeding up the tendering process by five months, but said this was a positive move.

"This is a positive step to give staff a clear idea of who will run the new facilities, and allow them to make long-term plans for themselves and their families," she said. "Based on the client planning that’s been undertaken we know the types of services that the residents and their families require."

Ms Wooldridge did not answer the Bendigo Advertiser's questions about staff wages and positions for the new facility.

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