29 Jun 2015

Federal funding cuts force closure of vital disability support service

Federal funding cuts have forced the closure of an essential disability support service that has linked millions of people with inclusive travel and recreation.

Nican close its ACT-based office and phone and email service last week, after almost three decades supporting people with a disability.

The closure followed the federal government's decision in 2014 to cut funding to specialist disability information services.


Nican office in Mitchell has shut its doors for good after federal budget cuts. Marketing manager Craig Wallace and executive director, Suzanne Bain-Donohue packing up. Photo: Melissa Adams

Nican provided a national database and information referral service linking people with a disability to more than 3500 accessible accommodation, recreation, transport, equipment and other services.

Nican marketing manager Craig Wallace said the loss of the national service would cause a "huge gap" in support and information, at a time when it was needed most.

"For people with disabilities like me, travel is a really anxious experience, you have to plan it like a military expedition," he said.

It was described as the only major comprehensive national source of information and advice of its kind.

Nican also offered a concession card for those travelling with a carer, giving a 50 per cent discount.

Mr Wallace said "Our other mood is one of surprise and bafflement, because we expected with the NDIS coming, there would actually be more need for information," he said.

Nican's website had five million hits per year.

It also delivered a highly cost-effective service.

The funding levels, about $161,000 per year, had remained unchanged since it was launched by Hazel Hawke in 1988.

"They're going to need to reinvent us when the NDIS rolls out what's called tier two services in 2016," he said.




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