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"I've never seen her so sad": AFLW star Moana Hope fights to save her sister's care program.

AFLW player Moana Hope knew her sister Lavinia would be devastated by the news that her school — “her favourite place in the world” — is being shut down.

Lavinia, 26, lives with Möbius syndrome, a rare neurological condition, and has attended the Melbourne City Mission’s Bridges Day Program for eight years.

The program, open since 1992, supports those with intellectual disabilities, and teaches basic life skills like cooking and how to call triple zero.

But as Moana explained on Instagram, this week she was informed the service was closing down because it was no longer financially viable under a new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding model.

The program, now set to shut in September, supports 90 students.

Moana, who is Lavinia’s primary carer, posted a heart-wrenching video of the moment she broke the news to her sister on Friday.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Today my heart broke… Lavinia and her 90+ schools friends hearts are breaking. I got a call from Vinnys school called Bridges ( her favourite place in the world) and they informed me that @ndis_australia and @melbcitymission have decided to shut down her school and so many other special needs schools around Victoria this year.. A school she attended for the last 8 years and it’s the best part of her day. Vinny can’t go get a job. This is her thing. And you are taking this away from them all. They are special needs and you tell them that the school is closing down in 3 months its bullsh*t. HOW IS THIS OK. @ndis_australia @melbcitymission ??? disappointed is an understatement. Where is all the funding actually going… I’m gonna stop this. I’m so sorry to all the families that are experiencing the hurt of NDIS. #tears #ndis #getitsorted #helpthem #specialneeds #notoNDIS

A post shared by Moana Hope (@moanahope) on

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Talking to Mamamia, Moana said Lavinia “cried in bed all afternoon” over the news: “I’ve never seen her so sad before.”

The star forward explained that for Lavinia, and so many of her friends, going to school is “the thing that she loves doing the most”.

That’s why she is determined to fight the “heartless decision” and save the Bridges program.

“There’s no Plan B”.

For the families of the 90 students that attend the program, Moana explains they were advised to “apply for some one-on-one support with NDIS”.

“It’s like saying shut down all the schools in Victoria, all the other schools that kids attend every day, shut them down and just get the tutor. But the tutor might come once a week,” she said.

“If Lavinia doesn’t have school she can’t go get a job. These kids and adults can’t go out and get a job.”

Moana said she has been contacted by a number of the families of Lavinia’s friends who are just as angry as her. They have shared with Moana that if the program is shut down, they’ll have to quit their jobs to become full-time carers.

According to Moana, a number of other participants in the program don’t have families who can support them.

“There’s no Plan B for these kids and adults,” she said.

“You don’t take away basic human rights from people. And they’re doing that. And they’re getting away with it. I won’t let them.”

In a statement, Melbourne City Mission said the decision followed a two-year review.

“A range of factors have contributed to this decision, including concerns about the existing Pascoe Vale location, which we have outgrown and would require significant un-funded capital to address, and the group-based service model of Bridges, which we cannot appropriately remodel to operate effectively with individualised NDIS funding.

“MCM understands this is difficult news for participants, families, carers and staff who have been involved in the Bridges service for many years.

“Through a staged transition, we will continue to support our participants during term 3 and work alongside them and their families to explore new arrangements and service providers before the closure of the service on Friday 20 September. “

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