CHURCH welfare organisation Uniting Care will no longer provide disability care in the Hunter, and staff are blaming difficulties with the National Disability Insurance Scheme for the decision.
Uniting Care denies the move is related to the NDIS but acknowledges it will no longer provide disability services after conducting a ‘‘review’’ of its operations.
The National Disability Insurance Agency has also played down any suggestion of a problem between the two agencies and described Uniting Care’s move to stop providing disability services as a ‘‘commercial decision’’.
The NDIA said almost 500 organisations were registered to provide disability services in the Hunter.
Newcastle was among the first places in Australia to receive the NDIS when it began as a trial site in July 2013.
Before the NDIS, government departments and welfare groups were ‘‘block funded’’ to provide various services.
Now, individuals have their ‘‘care plans’’ funded, enabling them to pick and choose where they go for their services.
Uniting Care spokeswoman Alison Thyer said most of the group’s work in the Hunter was in aged care, but it had been providing ‘‘community care’’ packages to about 20 clients who had been funded previously by the state Ageing, Disability and Home Care agency.
It had decided after a review not to provide these services.
Other organisations in the Hunter were ‘‘better placed’’ to continue providing the services.
Ms Thyer said Uniting Care would help its clients switch to other providers. Staff who were working with people with disabilities would be offered ‘‘alternative shifts in aged care’’.
The Newcastle Herald was alerted to the development by welfare sector sources, but Ms Thyer said it was wrong to characterise Uniting Care’s decision as ‘‘pulling out of the NDIS’’.
‘‘We completely support the NDIS,’’ Ms Thyer said.
State and federal governments have acknowledged teething problems with the NDIS. The NDIA agreed to an 11.9per cent pay rise in NSW last year, but the welfare lobby’s peak body, National Disability Services, says many prices in the NDIS schedule are still below the cost of providing the services.