The healthcare and social assistance industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia; in fact the Employment Outlook for 2016-2017, released by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) projects that, in the next five years, Australia will see most of its employment growth within this industry. That is in front of construction and the professional, scientific and technical services industries and even mining!
The NDIS (National Disability and Insurance Scheme) has also brought additional changes to organisations’ and family funding alike, meaning even more focus will be brought onto how the services within these industries are structured and delivered.
One of the biggest investments for service providers and families is transportation, particularly for clients/family members who are not fully ambulant or rely on a wheelchair; but there are many vehicle and modification options out there so here are a few important pointers to keep in mind:
- What are the passenger’s needs? Many organisations may have a mix of both ambulant and wheelchair passengers, so a mixed purpose modification is most suitable. This could include multiple grab rails, fold down seats or storage spaces.
- Reputable modifier: All modifications should be accompanied by an engineer’s report prior to vehicle registration. The vehicle’s structure and mechanical setup should not be changed as part of the modification. Examples we have seen are in the Kia Carnival and Hyundai Imax, where roofs have been raised (affecting the structural integrity of the vehicle) or floors lowered and fuel tanks have had to be split – resulting in lower capacity and poorer overall performance.
- Driver training: Always ensure that your supplier can provide training for your staff on how to use any wheelchair modification fitted, both for safety of the passengers and protection of the equipment.
- Regular servicing: Ensure that your supplier has a regular service plan in place for the wheelchair lifter and safety equipment. These are normally serviced at 6 month intervals!
- Stamp duty and GST: Most modified vehicles should be exempt from Stamp Duty and the modifications exempt from GST.
- Vehicle power: Ensure that the vehicle chosen has sufficient power when under load – remember that some modifications can be quite heavy!
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