AN advocacy group which has helped thousands of disabled people and their families on the northern beaches over the past 40 years is under threat of closure.
Action for People with Disability has helped fight for the rights of disabled people to get proper funding and has exposed incidents where disabled people have been taken advantage, abused or neglected.
But now the State Government has announced it will only guarantee the not-for-profit group’s $200,000 funding until June next year while a review of advocacy services is ongoing.
Taylor Bellamo, an advocacy worker for Action fears for the “hundreds and hundreds of people who won’t have anywhere to turn” if it closes.
“I have people that say they won’t be able to get out of bed, they will feel totally deserted with no one to turn to in a crisis,” she said.
Ms Bellamo said there are concerns small grassroots advocacy groups could be replaced by a large organisation based in the city where clients will end up seeing different people every time.
Another fear is that the State Government may set up its own in-house advocacy service.
Christine Agius, an executive officer at Action, was this year awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to people with a disability.
She said it was important that advocacy work was independent of the government because a lot of time it’s about fighting government bodies to get better funding for clients, or to prove wrongdoings that have happened in their care.
She said even the state MPs have referred many clients to them over the years.
Ms Agius said the public hear mainly about positive stories of people with disability, but it’s not a true reflection of what actually happens for a large number of people in that situation.
“What we deal with at Action is physical assaults, sexual assaults, homelessness, abuse, neglect, deprivation. We deal with all that,” she said.
They also help people apply for funding.
Mum Kathy Boland, 61, of Narrabeen, who has a disabled daughter said: “Without Action I don’t think I would be here.
“I’d be in a corner crying.”