THE Wodonga Council will stop providing home and community care, saving it close to $1 million a year but costing about 70 jobs.
The program will be taken over by a private contractor when the council bows out of the program in seven months.
But the council was confident yesterday that some of those workers — all in permanent, part-time positions — could take up a job with whoever was chosen by the state government to provide HACC services.
The greatest demand upon Wodonga HACC providers has been for domestic services such as cleaning and ironing.
Wodonga’s program, used by about 700 clients, has had a waiting list since late 2011.
The council was at pains yesterday to stress to clients there would be no effect on the services they received.
Mayor Mark Byatt and chief executive Patience Harrington said staff had been aware for several years the council would take this path.
Cr Byatt said that it was
understandably an emotional jolt for HACC staff when told yesterday morning of the council’s decision, finalised in confidence at its meeting on Monday night.
The council set aside $820,000 for the program out of its $34.27 million community services budget this financial year.
Ms Harrington said the key message to people, particularly clients, was that the service was continuing.
“This is not going to stop,” she said.
“In seven months’ time — which will be the point where the service agreement with the Department of Health ceases — they may have a different bill and they may see some new faces delivering the service.”
“But ideally we would hope there is a service provider out there who can fundamentally take on the bulk of the home care services that we run,” Ms Hamilton said.
Cr Byatt said Ms Harrington had been working closely with the staff to best support them with efforts to get another job, and that would continue over the next few months.
The HACC program is run out of The Willows community centre in McFarland Road.
It will be up to the new service provider to decide whether it continues to use the building.
Cr Byatt said the question of what to do with HACC services had been around for the best part of 10 years.
“A decision of this significance and this magnitude isn’t taken lightly,” he said.
“It has been taken after a great deal of research and quite often a lot of debate about what is the best way forward to have sustainability in the future.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in the system who isn’t mindful of the emotion that hangs around these important decisions.”
Increasing cost pressures and the impact of significant regulation have contributed to the council’s decision.
“We believe that the decision is a first for Victoria.”