The Activ Foundation’s disability industrial work sites have received an 18-month reprieve, with the State and Federal governments agreeing on an $11.8 million funding deal to keep workshops in Geraldton and beyond open until the end of 2023.
The Albanese and McGowan governments on Sunday announced a $7.8m Commonwealth grant and $4m in State funding which will enable the industrial worksites to remain open a further 18 months, giving more time for workers and their families to find alternative jobs.
Funding changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme forced the organisation to announce in May it was closing its industrial worksites.
Activ launched a large-scale employment service in Geraldton in 1986 and currently has eight staff and 22 supported employees with disabilities who are engaged in craypot manufacturing, industrial sewing and pallet making.
The closures were to have started in July, with Premier Mark McGowan saying finding a way to support those affected by the site shutdowns had been his “number one immediate priority” since Mr Albanese won power.
“While the provision of disability services sits with the Federal Government, I did not want to see a scenario where these 750 Western Australian workers and their families are stranded and without support, or a means to transition to new employment options,” Mr McGowan said.
“This has been my number one immediate priority to resolve with the new Federal Government and, between Disability Services Minister Don Punch and I, we’ve had successive meetings and discussions with our Federal counterparts on this matter.”
Activ CEO Michael Heath said in May the closures were due to funding cuts to the Federally funded NDIS. He said the cuts had made it impossible to continue the large-scale employment sites.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said she was concerned the time frames originally announced by Activ (for the workshop closures) did not provide enough time to work with employees and their families to help them to move into other employment.
Mr Punch said the State’s $4m contribution would help Australian Disability Enterprises find suitable alternative work for the Activ employees before the workshops closed.