Seymour’s adult intellectual disability service provider says it has been left out in the cold with the closure of one of two purpose-built facilities in the town.CHALPAT SONTI December 19, 2012 4:44am
The Department of Human Services’ O’Sullivan Rd community residential unit, which was purpose-built about 20 years ago for adults with an intellectual disability, was closed earlier this year. It leaves just one facility in Alfred St.
DHS conducted a service review that was ‘‘in response to internally identified concerns pertaining to the Department of Human Services’ ability to provide accommodation support from the facility’’.
As a result, the ‘‘review concluded a number of factors which would impact on the ongoing viability of the O’Sullivan Rd facility’’ — lack of demand for shared supported accommodation, access to suitably qualified staff, and poor capital infrastructure deeming the facility not fit for purpose.
Goulburn Options president Janice Kemp said locals felt the reasons for closing the O’Sullivan Rd facility ‘‘were not justified’’.
‘‘It was just done a bit underhanded,’’ she said.
‘‘There is certainly still a need in Seymour. The numbers in the special school are quite big and parents just haven’t got any options any more where to send their kids. Since it closed I’m aware of at least one person who has had to be shifted to Albury.’’
Mrs Kemp said locals had no say in the matter.
‘‘I don’t feel we can get the house back at this stage but we need to make people aware there is a need in Seymour. It’s all right to build them in Shepparton or wherever but it’s not in our area. At the very least they should be able to stay in our community.’’
A Department of Human Services spokesman confirmed the O’Sullivan Rd property would be sold and proceeds would ‘‘be put into funds to help purchasing or rebuilding other facilities around the State to support people with a disability’’.
Other funding associated with the support of people at the O’Sullivan Rd facility would be used to enhance supports for people in the Seymour area.
He said ‘‘there was widespread consultation with residents of O’Sullivan Rd, advocates, guardians, staff and their industrial representatives, and local service providers’’ prior to the closure.
There were four residents at O’Sullivan Rd at the time of the relocation.
Two went to existing vacancies in Alfred St, one was already scheduled to move to an aged-care facility and one resident voluntarily moved to Mooroopna.
‘‘Current demand for supported accommodation is low relative to other towns in the region,’’ he said.
‘‘Most people are able to live in their own homes with support. Providing better supports to people and increasing their independence are key priorities for the Department.’’
DHS ‘‘always try to place a person in a Community Residential Unit in the town of their choice, however, sometimes urgency requires a person to go somewhere else until a place comes up for them’’.
Only one resident from O’Sullivan Rd and Alfred St was from the area.
Residents could request a move at any time if they wished and DHS would try to meet that request subject to vacancies occurring.
Today’s guest opinion column comes from former Shepparton resident and Notre Dame College alumni Joshua Nappa, who now studies economics and finance at RMIT in Melbourne. Joshua has written about the potential he sees in Shepparton reduce unemployment and help our retail sector.
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