Broken Hill City Council has announced it will shut down its aged and disability care services because it does not believe it will be able to compete under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The far west New South Wales council employs 49 staff at its Home and Community Care service (HACC), 27 of which are permanent employees.
The NDIS is a market-based system where people with disabilities receive their own funding and choose their own providers, and is set to be rolled out to the far west in July 2017.
Under the system, Broken Hill City Council would have to compete with other local disability service providers.
There are eight major disability providers in Broken Hill.
HACC staff are employed under an award that council said was too inflexible to be competitive, and would need considerable subsidisation from ratepayers.
Mayor Wincen Cuy said the 49 staff would have to be let go by council, but they would likely be seamlessly employed by the provider that takes over its service.
"The advantage our staff have [is that] they've already been trained," Cr Cuy said.
"They're already skilled, they actually have the ability to move into a position from day one," he said.
"Anybody that has the skills will get a job, simply because those skills are very hard to come by, and you need to make sure you have qualified staff to undertake this."
The State Government believes 200 new jobs in the disability services sector will be created in the far west as the NDIS is rolled out.
Cr Cuy said the transition would be smooth for staff that currently work at the council HACC service as well as its clients.
"What could actually transpire is that the staff finish with us on one day, start with a new supplier on the next day, and the client will know no different," he said.
"In a perfect world, that could happen."
Council general manager James Roncon said there had already been interest from other providers in taking on the service and staff.
"There are some really good accredited specialists out there that can pick up and run with the service delivery, and realistically probably deliver it a lot better than we can," Mr Roncon said.
"We've already had a number of interested parties that have come forward saying ... they are more than happy to come to town and pick up the service."
President of Local Government New South Wales, Keith Rhoades, said it was increasingly uncommon for councils to run their own aged care and disability services.
"With over $600 million per year cost shifted onto local councils to provide ... in some cases the total service that State and Federal Governments used to do, it's becoming very difficult to be able to address things like the maintenance back log, new infrastructure and so forth," Mr Rhoades said.
"Councils are making these decisions right across New South Wales and Broken Hill."
The separate Far West HACC service, which provides home maintenance and community transport services in Broken Hill, is not affected by the decision.
Read more at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-28/broken-hill-council-offloads-disability-care-services/7367678