An Ulladulla father, who protested outside the Ulladulla Centrelink office on Thursday demanding financial assistance for his family as his son undergoes cancer treatment, has had a win.
After contacting the Times and sitting outside the office for only one hour, Darryn Neale gained the attention of Centrelink staff who agreed to help him.
Darryn’s son Chris was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and the family has been waiting for financial assistance under the State Government’s Isolated Patients Transport and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS).
The initiative is designed to provide help with travel and accommodation costs when a patient needs to travel lengthy distances for specialist medical treatment that is not available locally.
Mr Neale said he and his wife are travelling to and from Sydney, losing time from work as well as paying $200 per night for accommodation in the city.
He told the Times for the past 12 months he has been filling in forms for assistance, but to no avail, despite having letters from Chris’s surgeon in Sydney that removed a tumor that was wrapped around his aorta in a 10-hour operation.
Mr Neale said the response from Centrelink was “not good enough” and he sat outside the office on the corner of Green and Boree Streets until he got a result.
“I can't continue to deal with incompetent public servants any longer,” he said.
“I intend to take a packed lunch and sit till midnight.”
After one hour, staff agreed to work with Mr Neale to arrange a Health care Card for his son to allow him to use the IPTAAS.
Mr Neale said after the Times published the story, Centrelink listened to his concerns.
“Funny how things change when the newspaper is mentioned,” he said.
“Once I told them the newspaper was coming to report on their incompetence they went into meltdown.
“It took about 1 hour ... Like magic, it was all fixed.”
He said he would be tackling IPTAAS officials next.
“My son has cancer yet we can't get any assistance,” he said.
“They require two forms, both of which have been submitted twice.”
He said the family was already “going through hell” and dealing with the IPTAAS was “hell again”.
Mr Neale said his son was a hard worker and “has never asked for anything in his life”.
“After month of chemo and eight months off work the cancer came back,” he said.
“My son has no income and is out of pocket $250 a week on meds.
“They are trying a radical form of chemo.
“It's a horrible place to be as a parent.”
In a letter to Premier Mike Baird he said: “If the IPTAAS was built to make a a parent going through hell, and a patient who has worked and saved yet never asked for anything visit a new hell, IPTAAS achieves said objective”.
Mr Neale said was prepared to sit outside Centrelink for as long as it took.
The Times Has sought comment from Member for South Coast Shelley Hancock.
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