Latrobe City aged care privatisation to go ahead

Latrobe City Council has announced new in home aged care providers. file photograph

Michelle Slater

Latrobe City has announced new home aged and community care providers after it hands the service to the private sector from July, following major federal government reforms.

Benetas will provide aged care services for people over 65 within the Commonwealth Home Support Programme in Latrobe City and Baw Baw Shire – as chosen by the federal government.

Uniting Gippsland will deliver home and community care programs for younger people.

Latrobe City made the decision in a closed-doors meeting in 2019, and this year will be among the last Gippsland councils to exit the service.

Latrobe City will notify service recipients before the changes take place and will support them into the transition.

“We understand and acknowledge that these changes will result in a period of uncertainty for our clients, their families and carers, along with our staff and volunteers, who are valued members of our aged and community care services teams,” Latrobe City said in a statement.

“Residents who currently receive aged and community care services do not need to do anything.”

The change means the loss of approximately 100 jobs from Latrobe City, including part time and casual employees.

Latrobe City chief executive Steve Piasente said council had been working to transition staff to new jobs, while others may choose to head into retirement.

“Some of these staff members have been working with us for a very long time and I thank them for all the work they’ve done for us,” Mr Piasente said.

“Having these staff work with us for most of their careers, they should be proud of the work they’ve done for the community in that period of time.”

Mr Piasente stressed that the changes were being driven from a federal level, and Latrobe City could not compete in the market to deliver the services in the long term.

The changes would mean significantly higher contributions from ratepayers and would not allow council to offer the suite of services expected as a funding package.

“We went through a very thorough process to look at alternative providers, we are confident that the providers that were chosen will provide quality services,” Mr Piasente said.

The decision had raised the ire of Australian Services Union members who last year had distributed a petition to stop the plan from going ahead.

ASU secretary Lisa Darmanin said she feared that working conditions could be threatened, and the amount of time carers could spend with each vulnerable resident would be shortened.

“The unwillingness of councillors to revisit the decision made in 2019 will have consequences for Latrobe City Council’s aged care workforce and elderly residents in the Latrobe Valley,” Ms Darmanin said

“No region, least of all the Latrobe Valley, needs women workers pushed into insecure work with fewer protections and lower conditions of employment.”

Latrobe City plans host a series of discussion groups for the community to have its say on age and disability services.

To attend a discussion group, visit