Council statement – MidCoast Assist

Published on 08 February 2024

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MidCoast Council has made the decision to transition out of the delivery of ageing and disability services following yesterday’s Council meeting.

The decision will see Council call for proposals from providers to take on the delivery of ageing and disability services to current MidCoast Assist clients and participants.

Council’s Director of Liveable Communities, Paul De Szell, explained MidCoast Assist was a legacy function of the former Great Lakes Council and began in the 1990s when other government funded providers withdrew from the Local Government Area.

The objective was to provide services to the community which were not otherwise being provided by the community services sector, he said.

“Since that time there have been significant changes to legislation and the introduction of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). That means today there are multiple providers (large and small) of both ageing and disability services located in the MidCoast region. “

Mr De Szell said as a result of the constantly changing landscape, MidCoast Assist has been under periodic review to ensure it was a viable part of Council’s activities.

Ageing and disability services are a discretionary service rather than a core Council business like roads, water and sewer, planning functions and waste management.

Mr De Szell did stress that there should be no concerns in the community or from clients, participants or staff that services from MidCoast Assist will just disappear.

“At this point in time there are no changes to our services. We will continue to deliver services to our clients and participants as we currently do.

“We take our responsibility to our staff, clients, participants and their carers and families very seriously.

“Our aim through this process is to get the best possible outcomes for our staff, clients and participants and transition the delivery of services to other providers as seamlessly as possible.”

Mr De Szell paid tribute to the staff of MidCoast Assist, saying they have delivered a fantastic and valued service for our community over the course of its operation.

“The decision is not a reflection of a lack of effort or capability on the part of MidCoast Assist staff.”

Staff have worked particularly hard over the past 18 months which has resulted in significant improvements across the business.

Mr De Szell said that while MidCoast Assist generated small surpluses in four of the last five financial years, budget projections for 2024-25 to 2028-29 indicate that the service will not be viable for Council to operate on an ongoing basis.

“We are facing uncertainty in funding models and arrangements for aged care and disability services and we know continued reform is expected.”

All staff, clients and participants have been sent direct communication about the decision and what it means, with no changes expected for some months.

“We are hoping to work with other providers to transition services and will be in regular contact with our clients and participants about how that will work and anything they need to do,” Mr De Szell said.

Council is expected to make a further decision in May about potential future providers and timelines for transition.