STATE government funding for supported residential services working with some of the most vulnerable people in Victoria has reached its limit.
There is no capacity for new supported residential services to receive funding from the Supporting Accommodation for Vulnerable Victorians Initiative.
The SAVVI funding stream became available 13 years ago to help maintain a supply of supported residential beds for people on pension-level incomes.
Mental illness has been identified as one of the main reasons people receive care at an SRS.
About 60 per cent of residents were reported to have a psychiatric disability back in 2012, when the last SAVVI guidelines were published.
More than 90 per cent of residents using a service interested in establishing a 60 – 70 bed facility in Bendigo have, or have had, a mental illness.
The SAVVI program is fully subscribed.
Should capacity become available in future, the opportunity to apply through a transparent and open procurement process would be provided to all eligible supported residential services.
There are believed to be fewer than 50 pension-level supported residential service beds in the community, compared with more than 200 in the Ballarat region.
The service interested in opening a residential service in Bendigo has been seeking information from Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Luke Donnellan about access to SAVVI funding, but has received no response.
Bendigo Health and Anglicare Victoria have both identified the need for additional supported residential services in the community.
“We acknowledge the issues raised and will continue to work with organisations in the region to support the vulnerable in our community,” Mr Donnellan told the Bendigo Advertiser.
The government defines supported residential services as privately-operated businesses that provide accommodation and support for people who need help with daily living.
“SRS vary in the services they provide, the people they accommodate and the fees they charge,” the 2012 SAVVI program guidelines state.
The state lost more than 1500 pension-level supported residential beds in the eight years before the SAVVI program came into effect.
“Poor financial viability was identified as a major cause of these closures, with factors such as rising rental/property costs, increasing complexity of residents’ support needs and limited capacity to increase fees to meet general cost increases contributing to the problem,” the 2012 guidelines state.
The funding services receive is split into two streams.
Some of the money can be used to help facilities meet day-to-day operating costs such as staffing.
The other stream helps services conduct facility repairs and maintenance and otherwise improve comfort and safety.
The Bendigo Advertiser understands SRS businesses must demonstrate their viability without SAVVI funding in order to be registered to operate.
The service seeking to establish a facility in Bendigo receives SAVVI funding to support the services it provides in Ballarat.
It is seeking to replicate those services in Bendigo in response to what it said was a massive increase in referrals from the region, particularly in the past three to four years.
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