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Kieran’s house built but sitting empty

IN LIMBO: Bevan and Maureen Gallagher with their son Kieran are waiting for government assistance before Kieran can move into special accommodation.
IN LIMBO: Bevan and Maureen Gallagher with their son Kieran are waiting for government assistance before Kieran can move into special accommodation. John Mccutcheon

A $500,000 home purpose-built to house three disabled men has been sitting empty for nine months because of a lack of government funding.

All three men, including Bevan and Maureen Gallagher's son Kieran, require 24-hour care, which would cost more than $300,000 a year.

It's money their families don't have and the Government is yet to supply.

Meanwhile, the four-bedroom Maroochydore house funded by the Holy Spirit Sisters - a Catholic order of nursing nuns in Brisbane - sits empty.

Mr Gallagher, 74, and his wife Maureen, 69, have cared for Kieran for 38 years.

They say the house represents their best chance to finally enjoy a break and allow Kieran to live with people closer to his own age.

"I sometimes think he gets sad sitting at home with his old parents," Mrs Gallagher said.

The couple both have health problems and knowing Kieran was being cared for, without living in an institution, would bring them peace of mind.

But months after its completion, the fully furnished, four-bedroom home with a cavernous kitchen and two custom-built bathrooms is still empty.

"It's extremely frustrating. It's stressful. We're not getting any younger," Mrs Gallagher said.

"We know that we need to have something in place for Kieran when we're no longer around.

"One of the other men, his mum is 88 and she's really desperate to know that her son will be cared for."

Mrs Gallagher said she and her husband had been continually lobbying government for the funding, but as recently as three weeks ago had received the standard response.

"We've been told the government doesn't have any money. We keep pushing and we keep getting the same answer."

Although Kieran will benefit from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it is not due to be implemented until 2018.

Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson said while the Gallaghers' need was genuine, their situation was only the tip of the iceberg, with many families nationally in a similar position.

She has submitted a request for them to meet Premier Campbell Newman.

"This is the big issue for many families with children with special needs," she said

"You're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. It will exceed the cost of the house within a couple of years."

Historically, distribution of disability care was inconsistent, she said.

"There's this patchwork of others who have got high level support and others who have got very little."

The Gallaghers remain optimistic that they and Kieran eventually will be able to embark on the new phase of their lives.

A fundraiser was held yesterday to help buy a vehicle to accommodate Kieran's wheelchair.

But each time the family visits the beautiful home and brushes away the dust that has settled, Mrs Gallagher said she could not help feeling sad at the "time warp" in which the family had become trapped.

Topics:  disability editors picks government funding


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