ELDERLY residents who relied on Fremantle council to provide transport and social outings will now have to fend for themselves in the private market.
The council last week voted behind closed doors to drop its home and community care (HACC) services, saying a new funding model made it too hard to compete with bigger providers.
It had been receiving block funding from the federal and state governments to help 87 seniors get to the shops and attend social functions, but the feds are taking full control and will only provide individual payments to the recipients.
“We’ve only got 87 people who access our services but they could choose to access anything they wanted now through other service providers,” Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said of the move.
“So it makes it pretty challenging for us in terms of us running our services, around who’s going to use it, what the demand is, given we’re such a small provider in a sea of much larger providers.
“On that basis certainly we debated long and hard. We decided to make sure we could transition those into larger providers with a wider range.
Fremantle employs two full-time staff as well as some casual drivers to run its HACC program, and while Dr Pettitt said the council will advocate on their behalf, he couldn’t guarantee they’d find new jobs.
“I don’t think we can necessarily guarantee that, but certainly that’s our hope that they’ve got the expertise, they’ve got the experience and that they’ll get re-employed by the future provider.”
He also couldn’t guarantee the seniors wouldn’t face price rises, but says he expects they’ll be moderate at worst.
“We understand the transition may be difficult for some people so we’ll be talking individually to each of our clients over the coming weeks to make the transition as simple and seamless as possible”.
Fremantle aims to have all its clients with new providers by July.