Paul Omodei

Paul Omodei


    Other services preferred to respite house in Kalgoorlie

    30/01/2001 7:05 AM

    The promise of a new respite house in Kalgoorlie shows just how out of touch with the community the Labor Party is, Disability Services Minister Paul Omodei said today.

    “It also shows that local MLA Megan Anwyl is simply not listening to the community or to the briefings given her by the Disability Services Commission and instead is trying to foist her own ideas onto people with disabilities and their families,” he said.

    “The former respite house was closed in 1998 because it could not provide the kind of respite services people wanted and was too big a drain on resources.

    “The Labor Party now wants to spend $400,000 to build a new one and has not made any allocation for the cost of running services at the home.

    “The running costs will have to be taken from services that people really want.”

    Mr Omodei said the Disability Services Commission had worked with the local community for the past 18 months to ensure services met community need.

    “A great deal of time and effort has been invested to determine a clear and fully-funded strategy that has the support of local people with disabilities and their families," he said.

    “With the community, we have identified four major issues - accommodation, respite, the need for support workers and community inclusion - and we are implementing strategies to address those issues.

    “On the issue of respite, families told us that they want flexible and innovative respite options that maximise the involvement of people with disabilities in family and community life.

    “These include in-home respite, day activities, community access options and camps for children during school holidays.

    “This doesn’t include an old-style residential respite facility that will isolate people with disabilities from their local community and, experience has shown, will be a waste of valuable resources.”

    Mr Omodei said that when the old respite facility was closed in 1998 because it was barely used, the Commission ensured the $40,000 saved stayed in the Goldfields by channelling the funds to the Goldfields Individual and Family Support Association (GIFSA) to provide appropriate respite options to families.

    Mr Omodei also challenged the Opposition to justify its claims that there were 80 Goldfields families “who desperately needed access to care” (Kalgoorlie Miner report 23/1).

    “This is the sort of sweeping exaggeration we have come to expect from a dispirited and desperate Labor Party,” he said.

    “The fact is that the Goldfields region is well resourced both in funding and in terms of the range of services available to people with disabilities and their families.”

    He said the region received more than $1 million annually from the State Government for a wide range of disability services.

    Initiatives for the region included:
    • establishing a new organisation, Options for People’s Accommodation and Lifestyle (OPAL) to assist families to manage accommodation support funding;
    • an agreement with the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder for weekend respite for people with disabilities at the Community Centre every second weekend, administered and managed by the local authority and funded by the Commission at around $30,000 annually;
    • establishing a Support Worker registry with other service providers in the region to attract and train prospective support workers to work with families in the region;
    • a new steering group that will investigate inclusive and integrated respite and community-based options for children with and without disabilities; and -
    • additional funding for holiday respite programs.

    “The Labor Party appears to be unaware of what is really going on in people’s lives and has come up with an unrealistic promise in the hope of making itself look good,” Mr Omodei said.

    “The promise is about as good as Opposition spokesman Alan Carpenter’s assertion that the former respite building ‘was now being used as horse stables’ when what he actually saw for himself on site was that an individual had put some horses in the yard.

    “Close enough to the truth isn’t good enough when you’re dealing with the lives of people with disabilities.”

    Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700