STOCKTON Centre supporters have rallied behind a proposal to turn the institution into a ‘‘disability care hub’’.
Supporters of the plan, reported by the Newcastle Herald on Saturday, attended a meeting in Newcastle on Wednesday night to hear the proposal unveiled by Stockton Welfare Association spokeswoman Wendy Cuneo.
Under the plan, the Stockton Centre would be re-badged as an ‘‘inclusively designed residential community’’ and become a ‘‘hub for learning’’ in disability care.
As NDIS funding is rolled out in NSW, the government plans to hand over control of disability services to non-government organisations.
The government also plans to close institutions like the Stockton Centre, Tomaree Lodge and the Kanangra Centre near Morisset.
About 400 people with disabilities live at the Stockton Centre, which the government plans to close by 2018.
At the meeting, hosted by Newcastle Trades Hall Council secretary Daniel Wallace, Graham Burgess, whose son Stuart lives in a group home in Belmont, said the privatisation of disability services represented a failure of state government ‘‘philosophy’’.
‘‘The government talks about selling off the poles and wires, fine, but these are people, not wood and tin,’’ he said. ‘‘Disabled people are not for sale.’’
Independent member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper and Labor candidate for Port Stephens Kate Washington also spoke at the meeting.
It is also Labor Party policy to close the centre, but Ms Washington, a solicitor at Catherine Henry Partners, said she was speaking ‘‘professionally and personally’’.