MidCoast Assist seeks private providers to deliver services

MidCoast Assist vehicles are regularly seen outside the Tea Gardens MidCoast Council building.

MIDCOAST Council has announced the decision to ‘transition out of the delivery of ageing and disability services’, following the Council meeting on Wednesday 7 February.

Council now seeks proposals from private providers of ageing and disability services to replace the delivery to clients and participants of MidCoast Assist, a Council operation now due to close.

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The Myall Coast, at the extreme southern end of the MidCoast LGA, hosts the oldest demographic in Australia, promising much trepidation over what MidCoast Assist’s eventual closure means.

“There are literally only a couple of clients in the (Myall Coast) area, so it won’t have a drastic effect to anyone, especially considering the plan is to hand the operations over to a private operator anyway,” a Council spokesperson told NOTA.

MidCoast Council’s Director of Liveable Communities, Paul De Szell, said, “MidCoast Assist was a legacy function of the former Great Lakes Council, which 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.

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

Council explained that despite MidCoast Assist returning “small budget surpluses” in some recent financial years, budget projections for 2024-25 to 2028-29 indicate it will not be viable for Council to operate long-term.

“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 stressed that there should be no community concerns from clients, participants, nor staff that MidCoast Assist services will “just disappear”.

“At this point in time there are no changes to our services,” he said.

“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.”

Council meeting minutes state, “The outcome of the request for proposals will be considered by Council in May, with MidCoast Assist being wound up and no longer operating past 30 September 2024.”

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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