PLEASE EXPLAIN: Colanda staff angry about closure plans

Health and Community Services Union state organiser Angela Carter met with employees and union members at Colac’s Colanda centre to discuss the State Government’s plan to close the disability residential service.

Health and Community Services Union state organiser Angela Carter met with employees and union members at Colac’s Colanda centre to discuss the State Government’s plan to close the disability residential service.

EMPLOYEES at Colac’s Colanda centre have told union officials they are angry at the lack of consultation from the State Government on the centre’s closure.

Health and Community Services Union state organiser Angela Carter met with union members at the disability residential service on Wednesday to discuss the centre’s planned closure.

The State Government announced in 2014 that it planned to close all Victorian disability institutions, including Colanda, by 2015 and included funding for its closure in last week’s 2016-17 budget.

Mrs Carter said the government was yet to consult with HACSU or employees at Colanda about the centre’s closure or set out a timeline.

“When are they going to start consulting and actually giving timelines to these members and this community about what they need to be planning for?”

“People need to plan for their future, and they need to know whether in six months’ time they need to start to thinking about moving, or in two years’ time or in 10.

“An announcement in a budget is not a timeline.”

In a letter to HACSU state secretary Lloyd Williams, the government said that the redevelopment of Colanda will happen in stages, and “planning and consultation would commence now”, but there would be no immediate changes.

The government also committed to building 10 community-based care houses for residents which is in addition building two houses in Colac and two at Geelong and one refurbished house at Warrnambool.

Mrs Carter said HACSU would expect the government to build at least eight houses in Colac to ensure residents and employees could remain in the Colac community.

“The government says that they will attempt to move residents to where their families are based,” she said.

“We’re not expecting that someone that’s got family in Melbourne will be placed in a house in Warrnambool.

“That’s why we do expect there’s likely to be a couple of houses in Melbourne, likely to be at least one in Ballarat.

“But for the majority of them there should be no reason why they don’t stay in Colac and that’s what we want and we’re not getting any commitments about.”

Mrs Carter said she believed the closure could also have a negative impact on the Colac community and businesses that service the centre.

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