THE STATE BUDGET has committed funding for the closure of Colac’s Colanda Residential Services centre, but it is still unclear when the centre will close.
The State Government released its 2016-17 budget on Wednesday and included money to prepare for the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme which includes a plan to close Colanda.
The budget includes money to build 10 new houses for residents and the refurbishment of an existing property at Warrnambool.
Disability and Ageing Minister Martin Foley failed to answer the Colac Herald’s question about where the government would build the houses, but a spokeswoman said four houses were under construction at Warrnambool.
The spokeswoman said the government would keep residents, families and their carers informed as the closure plan progressed.
“Yesterday’s budget announcement provides funding to support the staged redevelopment of Colanda Residential Services, as part of the government’s broader commitment to support the rollout of the NDIS in Victoria,” the spokeswoman said.
“The additional budget funding will also enable further new homes to be built.”
The spokeswoman said residents would move into new community-based accommodation over the next few years and “every effort will be made to ensure continuity of staffing”.
“We will continue to work closely with staff, residents, families and carers as we develop options for the new community-based accommodation,” she said.
Health and Community Services Unions state organiser Angela Carter said the union was yet to have discussions with the government about the centre’s closure and would welcome an “open and transparent process” that ensured people’s best interest.
“Of great concern to Colanda staff and families is that there has been no commitment to date to keep these new houses in the Colac area,” Ms Carter said.
“We seek commitments from the government that all disablilty services including those resulting from the closure of Colanda remain in public service provision as committed to on their election,” she said.
Polwarth MP Richard Riordan said that the State Government had shown no respect to Colanda’s 70 residents and the staff.
“Everybody knows that Colanda, its staff and residents have been an integral part of the Colac community since the 1970s,” Mr Riordan said.
“To close the centre using two lines in a 400-page document is a disgrace,” he said.
The Colac Herald reported in July 2014 that the Office of the Public Advocate had called for all remaining Victorian disability institutions, including Colanda, to close by 2015.