GIVING THEM A BREAK: Member for Mildura Peter Crisp was joined by Shadow Minister for Disability, Tim Bull, at Sunraysia Residential Service’s Benetook Farm this week, where they announced $250,000 toward construction of respite accommodation should the Liberal-Nationals be elected in November.

By JOHN DOOLEY

IF elected in November, the Victorian Liberal-Nationals will grant $250,000 to Sunraysia Residential Services (SRS) to help expand respite services to better support Sunraysia people with disabilities, their carers and families.

The funding, which would be made available to SRS under the Coalition’s Decentralisation Policy, would go toward building a short-term respite accommodation complex.

In making the announcement at SRS’s Benetook Farm on Tuesday, Member for Mildura Peter Crisp was joined by Shadow Minister for Disability, Tim Bull, who said one of the biggest challenges facing people with disability, and their families, is the lack of respite facility places.

“Almost one in five Australians lives with a disability. More support is needed for these families and we’ve identified a need for greater support here in Mildura,” Mr Bull said.

“Increasing demand for respite services has put pressure on existing local services in Mildura. 

“This project will help provide much needed short-term, overnight respite to the Mildura community.”

Mr Crisp agreed, saying the project would help fill an existing service gap for respite accommodation.

“SRS is a great local provider, and this funding will ensure people with disabilities and their support networks can access this type of respite service in times of need,” he said. “SRS has become a highly regarded and respected provider of services in Mildura, and we’re pleased to help fund this important facility.”

Mr Bull said that with the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which will be up and running in our region early next year, many families transitioning to the new system wish to include a respite component in their new package.

“As we transition to the NDIS, which is a huge reform within the disability sector, there are going to be some challenges, and as we undertake its implementation, it will be important to identify any shortfalls,” he said.

“Where the State Government can be of assistance in co-operation with our Federal colleagues, we must meet people’s needs and provide the services they require, and of course respite is one of those key areas.

“If families are in the process of getting their NDIS package together, respite is an important component that is being requested by a lot of families, and to be able to allow them to spend that allocation of their package on respite, we need to have the facilities in place to service that demand, and that’s why we are here today to partner with SRS, to help provide that.” 

Mr Bull said that one of the biggest issues faced by families who are living with disabilities is simply getting a break.

“Just being able to get that short-term respite, which might simply be to have a night away or weekend away, is an enormous relief which completely refreshes them, and families often find themselves in a position where they need this critical outlet,” he said.

Mr Crisp said that he and Mr Bull understood the pressure families are under, adding that this support is “a small step toward helping ease that burden.”

“What we are doing to help is a small start, but we know it’s important, and short-term and overnight respite is an area where we would like to assist Sunraysia Residential Services,” he said.

“These are expensive but vital facilities, and if we can put something on the table to start the project, we know that SRS will build those partnerships to achieve this, they are very good at doing that.”

SRS owns and operates a significant number of high-quality properties designed for people with disabilities, including some respite accommodation.