The home support provider that axed an autism support
programme at short notice had to be ''hard-nosed'' because of
tight finances, Access board chairman John Ayling says.
Mr Ayling was contacted about Access' decision to cut the
Windmill Specialised Care holiday programme for autistic and
other special needs children in Dunedin, with just four
Since liaising with affected parents this week, Access would
continue its after-school programme through the holiday
period, chief executive Graeme Titcombe confirmed this week.
Mr Ayling said the organisation had to make a ''hard-nosed''
decision to cut the programme at short notice. Access had
been looking at its viability for some time, and he was not
sure why parents were told only this week.
Last month, Access closed the Invercargill Windmill centre.
In Dunedin, the centre would continue with reduced services.
''It just comes down to some fundamentals. We cannot afford
to continue to run programmes that don't meet the costs
associated with running it.''
Access inherited the centres from Dunedin Home Support
Services, which it acquired in the 2013 Southern DHB home
''We didn't purposely go out to seek this programme. It came
On revenue of $55 million to $60 million a year, Access
returned a loss of about $140,000 in the last full financial
''We are carrying a number of contracts at the moment that do
not return us sufficient to maintain viability, and
regrettably this is one that we've uplifted and we've got to
be, regrettably, quite hard-nosed about this.''
Lynlee von Ballmoos, a Dunedin mother of two autistic
children, said the organisation was being ''hard-nosed, and
they're dealing with kids''. She said the centre would also
be open between 1pm and 4pm in the school holidays for
parents with a particular funding allocation.
Mrs von Ballmoos said following an article in the Otago Daily
Times, she had had some of the 35 to 40 families who used the
service contact her and they were meeting today.
She had also heard from MP Michael Woodhouse's office who
said they would get back to her early next week. Autism New
Zealand chief executive Dane Dougan, of Wellington, said
there was a national shortage of holiday programmes for
autistic children. The organisation ran successful holiday
programmes in Christchurch and Hamilton, and hoped to offer
them nationally. It was considering funding options.
''I'm not suggesting it's going to happen tomorrow.''
Autism funding was changing, and moving towards
''individualised funding'', whereby consumers purchased their
own care. At present, there was a lack of available
programmes for the families to spend the money on.
''The challenge is going to be setting up these holiday
programmes and that is what we're working with Government on
Mr Dougan said he could not comment on the Windmill Centre