Community transport: fares blowout!

The community transport sector was tipped on its head when funding shifted from the NSW Government to the Australian Government following the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and aged care reforms.

Previously, community transport providers would receive a guaranteed block of funding, whereas now they must attract individual clients, who pay for the services they receive out of their NDIS or aged care package and the block funding has ceased

Transport for NSW and the Department of Family and Community Services used to have control over community transport. Now that the money comes from the Australian Government, the NSW Government’s role is limited to managing the contracts with individual community transport providers.

While it’s too early to know whether this was ultimately a good or bad move for users of community transport, we do know for certain that there are some wrinkles to be ironed out.

The issue of most concern is the increased cost. CPSA has heard of a number Community Transport providers bumping up their fees, sometimes by as much as 50%. Some providers have said that the price hike is related to their contract with the NSW Government, which says that Community Transport Providers need to cover 15% of their costs through client contributions.

This is a worry, because Community Transport is most often used by people who live on a low fixed income, so higher fees means either cutting back in other areas or giving up Community Transport altogether.

Another issue is the cost of transport to medical appointments. Under the new contracts, Community Transport Providers operate in particular areas. If you need to be transported out of that area, then you have to pay the full cost to provide that transport, which is generally more expensive than a taxi.

The problem is that doctors, particularly specialists, aren’t located in every area and sometimes there is no option but to travel a bit further in order to get the best care for you. After all, the priority should be getting the best health care, shouldn’t it? Well, apparently not if you’re planning to use Community Transport to get there.

CPSA is in discussions with Transport for NSW about how to ensure that Community Transport meets the needs of the community, so it’s important for us to know what’s happening and how these issues are affecting people.

If you have had any issues with Community Transport – the cost of services, transport to medical appointments or even just accessing Community Transport in the first place – then give Head Office a call on 1800 451 488.