The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) interventions have now forced the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) to provide bail-out funding to the Avalon Association Residential Facility for the Physically Disabled that was on the brink of shutting down due to the department’s failure to pay NGO subsidies on time.
The DA’s effort has ensured that this NGO based in Kensington, Johannesburg continues to provide its 35 residents living with disabilities a roof over their heads and access to proper nursing care and rehabilitation.
Avalon was plagued with numerous financial challenges and has been requesting bail-out funding from the department since 2016 with no success. Over the past five years, despite continual correspondence from Avalon to the department, the department had no formal communication with them regarding their plight or sought to meet with them to discuss their problems.
In August last year, l was approached by Avalon and was dismayed when I learnt about the department’s lack of empathy towards their plight. I arranged an emergency meeting with the department and Avalon.
The department officials and the Avalon board members had their first meeting where Avalon board members requested a once-off bail-out funding to alleviate the shortfall needed to service the outstanding payment to a service provider for care and cleaning services and to assist with the operating expenses.
At the second meeting, solutions were evaluated to ensure the sustainability of Avalon as well as a potential merger with another NGO. After several negotiations with the department, the DA was able to facilitate the much-needed payment of bail-out funding to Avalon from the department.
It is a shame that the department had turned a blind eye to the plight of the needy and people with disabilities for over 5 years.
The big tragedy is that every year the department constantly underspends on its budget and hundreds of thousands of Rands are returned to the Treasury.
This money could have been used to support NGOs so that they are able to survive and provide essential welfare and social services to the most vulnerable members of this province.
The DA will continue to exert pressure on the department to ensure that NGO subsidies are paid on time and NGOs are provided with much-needed support to continue rendering primary and secondary care intervention to the millions of critically vulnerable members of our society.