Questions have been raised about the federal government's motivation behind a call for grant applications under a dementia support program.
Applications have closed for funding under the National Dementia Support Program with assessment of the applications to be completed in the next two months.
Sarah, a Port Macquarie resident living with dementia, fears it could be a step towards privatisation of the federally funded services provided by Dementia Australia.
"This is not the sort of service, I feel, we could ever run the risk of that happening to," she said.
Dementia Australia is the advocacy voice for people living with dementia.
"Dementia Australia is a wonderful advocacy organisation," Sarah said.
The National Dementia Support Program is one of several programs which the federal government funds Dementia Australia to provide.
The program was redesigned following a 2016-17 consultation process.
A Health Department spokesperson said the grant opportunity allowed for the department to select a provider to deliver all program elements or separate providers for each element.
Its core elements - the dementia helpline and website funding, and counselling and education/training - will continue as part of the redesigned program.
The spokesperson said Dementia Australia was eligible to apply for any number of program elements.
The department spokesperson said the program had been delivered by Dementia Australia, previously as Alzheimer's Australia, since 2005 and Dementia Australia had been aware of the intention to go to market for the program since 2017.
The spokesperson said funding to Dementia Australia to deliver the current National Dementia Support Program had been extended to November 30, 2019 to allow time for a smooth transition if the assessment outcome was a change to a new provider or providers.
"Contestability is an important driver of achieving value with government money," the spokesperson said.
"Holding a competitive, merit-based selection process to identify a provider(s) for the NDSP elements from 2019-20 aligns with the Department of Finance's Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines 2017."
Sarah raised concerns about the impact which could potentially flow from a change of provider.
She said the federal government did not have any community consultation around the program going to open tender.
"If this issue had been raised with the public, the community would have been terribly interested to have offered its opinion," Sarah said.
"And had we had thought there was a risk of privatising it [the program's services], the community would have wanted to make its views on this subject known to the government very clearly."
Dementia Australia is unable to comment during the tender process.
The national peak body for people of all ages living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers provides advocacy, support services, education and information.
The organisation represents the 447,115 Australians living with dementia and the almost 1.5 million Australians involved in their care, the Dementia Australia website says.
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