Govt punctures MOW
BUREAUCRACY has declared war on Douglas pensioners for the second week in a row.
Mossman Meals on Wheels co-ordinator Steven Macrae fears “political correctness and all things bureaucratic” will force the cost of meals up by 50 per cent for local people in need.
At present people pay $6 a meal which are made fresh and delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
But if the latest round of Federal Government red tape is forced through each meal will cost $9.
The Commonwealth Health and Community Care Program (HACC) has threatened to pull its subsidy if MOW does not comply by getting their volunteers to fill out a new 51-page work document.
“The Federal Government is now forcing us and our volunteers to read and sign-off on a 51-page document put out by HACC and it is making our volunteer work nearly impossible and for many it is and they will simply leave and that would be horrific for us - the country runs on volunteers,” Mr Macrae said.
“Like all other Meals on Wheels ( MOW) agencies in the country we are a volunteer organisation that exists solely to provide affordable, nutritious food to vulnerable people.
“If at the end of the day we are forced to comply we simply will have no choice but to raise each meal to $9 each and that is the last thing we want to do because people, many of them do not have an extra $9 - they are on very strict and fixed incomes.
“The only paid person on our staff is our excellent cook but everyone else is a volunteer who undertake to deliver meals to these needy people and the volunteers do all of this at their own expense such as paying for their fuel and for the wear and tear on their vehicle and their time but they do it because they want to help.
“We have noted, with dismay and disbelief, the exhaustive and complex provisions, as well as the onerous ’Quality Reporting Program’ compliance requirements, of the Commonwealth HACC Program Manual and the 51-page Terms and Conditions document accompanying it. “This new material certainly maintains the HACC tradition of treating MOW agencies as employees - one quite outrageous example is the imperious demand for workers to undergo repeated police checks.
“We are not prepared to entertain that concept at all and we predict that, wherever it may be introduced, it will serve to drive volunteers and other staff away and keep them away in droves.
“We know when someone fronts up and wants to be a volunteer with us we have a good feel for who will work out and who won’t and so as far as police checks go they are pretty useless and we use the time-honoured principal ’if in doubt - leave out’ and so we are spared letting the wrong type of people into the volunteer team.”
Other “essential” compliance requirements comprise adherence to the Queensland Government Food Act 2006, the local government Council’s rigorous Food Safety Plan, the new Work Health and Safety Act 2011, as well as Building Fire Safety rules.
The Federal Government department responsible for HACC yesterday refused to comment on the demands.