AS MANY as 42 jobs will be lost after Ballarat disability employment organisation Finding Futures had federal government funding withdrawn.
The shock decision means that the disability employment organisation’s programs, including the Doveton Street Futures Coffeehouse, Futures Christmas Tree Farm and Futures Property Services, will be closed from March 2013 when current funding expires.
Finding Futures works in collaboration with other organisations, including Sovereign Hill and Ballarat City Council, and recently launched an Aboriginal cemetery project.
Chief executive officer Bryan McCormick said the decision had come as a “bombshell” for the organisation.
“Finding Futures has been performing in the top 10 per cent nationally of disability employment service providers for the past two years so it is difficult to understand the government’s decision,” he said.
“We have provided these services for over 20 years and have consistently been rated by government as a high performer over that time.
“The high-rating performance since late 2010 was unfortunately not sufficient to win the tender.”
Mr McCormick said he would work closely with the new service providers, Western District Employment Access and Community AXIS, in an attempt to find continued employment for Finding Futures clients.
“It is sad that 20 fabulous years of providing disability employment services in our community will come to a close next March,” he said.
Trevor Miller, the manager of partner organisation McCallum Industries, said the news was a shock for the Ballarat community.
“We’ve had a long-term relationship assisting McCallum’s job seekers with training to get back into the workforce and it is quite sad to think that might end,” he said.
“While I am sure the agencies that have won the tender will do a good job, it’s sad Finding Futures is put in the situation where staff and job-seekers have this kind of limbo.”
Ballarat MP Catherine King said the decision followed a competitive tender process for disability employment services.
“Unfortunately, not everyone can be successful in a competitive tender process, but the government remains determined that people with a disability in our region and elsewhere will have access to a higher standard of employment support services,” Ms King said.
“We are committed to making big reform in the disabilities sector because we want to improve the care, services and support provided for Australian’s with a disability.”
Ms King said the Gillard government had increased investment in helping people with a disability find work to $3.2 billion over the next four years.