Activ work sites saved by $7.8 million in federal funds

Activ work sites saved by $7.8 million in federal funds

57

There is a sense of relief at the Activ Foundation after the Federal Government stepped in with grant funding of $7.8 million to keep Activ’s large-scale industrial work sites, such as the site in Bentley, open for another 18 months.

In late May, Activ Foundation announced its intention to close its large-scale industrial work sites, where more than 750 supported employees with disability currently work.

The Bentley site accounts for 392 of these supported employees, along with 45 Activ staff.

At the time, Activ blamed the shift to NDIS funding as a major cause.

“The shift to NDIS funding has fundamentally changed how disability services are funded,” a spokesperson said.

“We have seen this change in views backed by shifting Government policy and funding priorities, with increasing focus on more targeted and personalised support which has made large scale employment sites increasingly difficult to sustain.

“As a result of these various changes, Activ has made the difficult decision to close all of our large-scale industrial work sites over the coming months and refocus our efforts on growing community-based work opportunities, such as cleaning, maintenance and gardening services.”

The closure of Activ sites was set to commence within a month, a factor that prompted Federal Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth to step in.

She sad Activ did not provide enough time to work with supported employees and their families to assist them to move into other employment.

“Many of the supported employees have been with Activ for decades and this announcement came

as a significant shock to them,” she said.

We need to put these employees first and make sure they receive the support they need to manage this significant transition in their lives.”

Ms Rishworth said the Australian Government agreed to support the transition for Activ employees by providing funding to the Activ Foundation which will enable much needed additional time for these employees.

“This funding will slow the closure of the work sites, from a few weeks to 18 months.

“During this time, all of the 756 employees may continue working with Activ in their roles, if they wish to do so, meaning they have a guarantee of continuing employment in the immediate future.”

An Activ spokesperson said the organisation had been in rapid discussions with the new Federal Government following the election.

“We’re delighted with the announcement of its support over the weekend,” the spokesperson said.

“We advised all affected supported employees and staff on Sunday and we’re working with them now on what this means going forward.

“This is great news and there’s a sense of relief that there is now some breathing space for individuals to consider their options and for Activ to develop more alternative employment opportunities.

“In the meantime, we will continue lobbying for a permanent change to the NDIS funding model that will allow our workshops to remain open.

The State Government will also provide a funding pool of $4 million to support Western

Australian-based Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) through the transition period. The grants

will help the organisations build contemporary service models and associated workforce capability.