The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie has hosted Senator Mitch Fifield, Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector in Castlemaine, giving him an insight into the challenges faced by regional Victorian carers.
Senator McKenzie said people in regional areas who care for the members of their family with a disability do it tough, especially as they’re often removed from support services and seldom get a break.
“There are approximately 340,000 people in Victoria with a profound or severe core activity limitation, yet not all of them have access to appropriate respite care.
“Parent carers in Mount Alexander Shire are among those forced to travel outside their community in order to place their disabled children in respite care.
“It’s unacceptable there is a four-year wait for respite in the nearest regional centre, when at least 47 families would benefit from a local service.”
Later this year, the Mount Alexander Shire Accommodation and Respite Group hopes to start building the Castlemaine Respite Community House.
Senator McKenzie said it was great to see a local initiative receive such strong community support.
“Local communities require local solutions, and this is a great example of how a community can come together to support those in need – especially the unique donation of land from Bob and Eileen McDonald.
“MASARG has raised more than $600,000, with support from local organisations like the Castlemaine Lions Club, but had hoped its efforts would be matched with federal funding.
“Instead the group was short changed by the Gillard Government, which recently rejected its application to the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund.”
Senator Fifield said the decision was a disappointing outcome for MASARG.
“Proper support for people with a disability, and those who care for them, should be core government business, which is why the Coalition strongly supports a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“Government needs to end the rationing and the waiting lists.”
The Senators also toured Windarring, a not-for-profit support centre for people with a disability, their families and their carers.