15/01/2021 - 15:00

Indigo questions funding decision

15/01/2021 - 15:00

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Indigo Australasia is asking the WA government to continue funding one of its services, but the government says it warned the organisation in 2016 its funding would stop.

Indigo questions funding decision
Steve Glew says if the service did not receive government funding it would cease to operate in its current form.

Indigo Australasia is asking the WA government to continue funding one of its services, but the government says it warned the organisation in 2016 its funding would stop. 

For more than 40 years, Indigo, formerly known as Independent Living Centre WA, has provided free information and advice about assistive technology with block funding from the government.

According to Indigo, the service receives more than 15,000 calls and emails requesting information and advice each year.

However, Indigo has not received confirmation its government subsidy to run the service will continue in the 2021 financial year.

Indigo chief executive Steve Glew said if the service did not receive government funding it would cease to operate in its current form and some people may not be able to access a similar service elsewhere for free.

“A lack of commitment to continuing this service would affect our staff and could impact the nearly 400,000 people in WA with disability who are not NDIS participants,” Mr Glew told Business News.

“It is concerning that people who are not funded either through the NDIS or Commonwealth Home Support Programme would need to pay out of pocket for the information.

“It would no longer be free.

“In real terms it means that these people could slip through the cracks and no longer have subsidised access to information that improves quality of life and independence.”

Mr Glew said closing the program would possibly impact Indigo’s other business areas because people would not be coming to see the provider to trial equipment or book in with a health professional for an appointment.

Department of Communities assistant director general office of disability Marion Hailes-MacDonald said Indigo had been informed of the changes to funding a few years ago.

“The Department of Communities has undertaken dedicated and extensive engagement with all block-funded service providers including Indigo since 2015-16, regarding the cessation of block-funding and the need for organisations to consider alternative business models,” Ms Hailes MacDonald said.

“Block-funded disability services have been progressively phased out over a number of years due to the implementation of individualised funding for people with disability through the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and individual plans capturing their disability related support requirements.

“The funds previously directed to block-funded services are now part of the WA Government’s significant funding commitment to the NDIS.”

Ms Hailes-MacDonald said demand for Indigo’s services had diminished in recent years in line with the transition to the NDIS.

Indigo’s Mr Glew said while the introduction of the NDIS had meant some people could pay for their own services using their NDIS funding, some still chose to use Indigo’s service.

He said the government reduced the service's funding by 50 per cent last year, a move which was supposed to reflect reduced demand.

Mr Glew said although Indigo was informed of the funding decision in the 2016 financial year, the assistive technology information service had continued to receive funding each year because it provided support to a broader range of vulnerable people in the community.

Ms Hailes-MacDonald said individuals with a clinical requirement who were not eligible for the NDIS could access support through Community Aids and Equipment Program, My Aged Care, their GP or other treating allied health professionals.

She said the department was meeting with Indigo in the next two weeks to understand their concerns and had requested information to support Indigo’s claims about people slipping through the cracks.

Indigo had revenue of $17.3 million in 2020, according to its annual report, and is ranked as the 35th largest charitable organisation on Data & Insights.

The report said $16.5 million of its total revenue was from contracts with customers.

In addition to its assistive technology information service, the not for profit also provides therapy, independent living and home modification services.

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