This month I am asking Council to stand up to the Baird Government on the sell-off of more critical community assets. The government has announced that it will privatise the Home Care NSW which will include the Aboriginal Home Care Service. These services allow older people and people with disabilities to remain in their homes for longer. This means they have more control over their lives and are healthier and happier for it. I am deeply concerned that the care of our most vulnerable people is set to become a money making exercise.
This decision follows a sequence of attacks by the Baird Government on vulnerable people in the City of Sydney and across NSW. The ongoing removal of housing residents in Millers Point has seen hundreds of older people and people with disabilities moved out of the City. With the closure of the Darling House facility, a group home for the elderly that will be forced to close under the Baird Government’s policy of ending peppercorn rent arrangements, many will no longer be able to call the City home. With the privatisation of Home Care services the ability for people to remain in their own homes is uncertain.
The Aboriginal Home Care service is run for Aboriginal people by Aboriginal people and provides a culturally sensitive service that indigenous people trust. Understandably there is a lot of mis-trust amongst the Aboriginal community of non-indigenous organisations.
With the Home Care NSW and Aboriginal Home Care there is no guarantee that service quality will be lowered for the sake of ‘efficiency’. The UK experience where an equivalent service was contracted to Serco shows that this is bad news for service users and employees alike. In 2013 the Serco run home care service in Suffolk was failing to meet both emergency and general response times due to lack of staff. 16% of staff lost their jobs in the transition between the NHS and Serco run service. Of those who kept their jobs staff reported being placed on contracts where they received less annual leave and sick leave entitlements than under the NHS service.
It is on the public record that representatives from Serco have met with the NSW Treasurer a few months ago. Although we can’t be sure what was said in the meeting it is clear that this company has a strong record of taking over services like this one.
Here at the City one of our goals is supporting and celebrating a diverse and vibrant community. With the NSW Government pushing people from their homes and undermining their support services many have no choice but to leave the City. Our community will be poorer for it.