By Oliver Lees
An organisation in Gisborne providing disability and mental health support services has had its only wheelchair access vehicle stolen in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Windarring is a not-for-profit organisation providing support to individuals on the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS) across four regional locations.
According to Windarring Gisborne team leader Martina Broomhall, the 12-seater wheelchair accessible bus was parked outside the organisation’s support centre on Hamilton Street on Monday, October 4.
When Ms Broomhall arrived at work at 8am on Tuesday October 5, she found the bus was missing.
Ms Broomhall said the building’s cleaners reported seeing the vehicle parked outside the support office as late as 1am.
A Victoria Police spokesperson told Star Weekly it was believed the white Renault bus was stolen between 1am and 8am.
Ms Broomhall said the theft was “a huge loss” for the organisation.
“We have clients that are high-need, we teach them anything from life skills to speech. Everything that you and I may take for granted, we support our clients to achieve,” she said.
“We have three clients who we are going to struggle to take out on activities now, because we physically cannot take them without the wheelchair bus.
“It’s really sad and really disappointing, because our families are going to be the ones who suffer. And we’re not some multi-million dollar company that can so easily replace such an expensive bus.”
Now with only one bus in their fleet among 28 clients at their Gisborne centre, Ms Broomhall said they will have no option but to cancel activities.
“There will come a time quite soon when we will have to tell people we can’t get them where they want to go,” she said.
“How can you tell people that?”
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au