MORE than 120 nurses caring for residents of the Stockton, Kanangra and Tomaree disability centres are unlikely to have jobs in the 69 group homes being built for the remaining 300 residents.
The nurses' union, which represents many of the affected employees, is considering industrial action over the news, which union sources said was a shock despite months of negotiations with Family and Community Services agency over the closure of the centres.
As the Newcastle Herald understands the situation, 410 nursing staff - 79 registered nurses (RNs), 76 enrolled nurses (EENs) and 255 assistants in nursing (AINs) - were considered "in scope" for the transfer to the group homes. Yesterday, management of the three centres were told that "all RNs will transfer, no ENs will transfer and most AINs will transfer". Documents indicate that 76 ENs and 50 AINs - or 126 positions - are "impacted".
There appears to be no redundancy payments for those in the mainly female workforce who will lose their jobs.
A spokesperson for the new Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister, Gareth Ward, confirmed the looming job losses last night but stressed that "the majority of the nursing staff" would be transferring to the new group homes.
FACS said the ENs would be offered three months work with Hunter New England Health. This was not open to AINs because Hunter Health did not employ any.
Mr Ward's spokesperson said that all staff without a job would be offered career planning and support, study leave, and funding for skills training.
The decision to proceed with the job cuts comes just days after Mr Ward visited Stockton and Kanangra to see the centres first hand.
He was with Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp at Stockton and Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper at Morisset.
Wendy Cuneo, whose son David lives at the Stockton Centre, said the job losses were "a catastrophe for the staff and for our residents, who love and trust them".
"These staff are specialised in disability care, most of them have many years experience and know how to communicate with our people, they are more than just support workers," Mrs Cuneo said.
Mr Piper, who worked for many years at Morisset Hospital, said the transfer to the group homes was "going to be a very difficult thing for the clients and their families, who are best served by staff who understand their needs".
He said he would be extremely concerned if the redundant staff were not treated fairly.
Mr Crakanthorp said families and residents needed better consultation than had been the case so far.
"No-one wants to create fear and anxiety for these families," Mr Crakanthorp said.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington raised the Stockton Centre in state parliament on Wednesday, criticising a lack of oversight in the transition to the group homes.