Council has resolved to sell off its 3 aged care facilities. Whether or not this is the appropriate decision is not the point. What concerns us is the manner and process by which this decision was made. There has been:

  • No community consultation whatsoever
  • No warning to staff, residents of these homes, or volunteers
  • No public documentation indicating the reasons why such a decision was made
  • The decision was made behind closed doors
  • No financial report tabled in council on the parlous state of aged care
  • No upfront admission by council that for the past 4 years at least council has been in the red for between $1m and $2m per annum in this area.

We certainly acknowledge that recent federal legislation has impacted severely on councils’ ability to provide such services. This however does not obviate the need for full transparency and communication with ratepayers and those directly impacted by such a decision. Our view is that it should be up to residents to determine how their money is being spent. Are residents willing to have their rates subsidise aged care in the community? Or, do they believe that private companies are the best option? Such decisions can only be based on council providing the community with the full facts. That has never happened in this council. No document has ever been tabled to explain why aged care has been running at such a loss for year upon year. Nor has any document been tabled which outlines a business case for the sale. Residents have been kept in the dark. That is tragically the modus operandi of this council on so many issues!

The very fact that such a momentous decision can be made in secret and that 9 individuals are totally complicit in endorsing this veil of secrecy is frankly unconscionable.

Many more questions need answering. For instance:

  • Will council also be ‘outsourcing’ its home care assistance functions – ie cleaning, carers, etc?
  • What guarantee do employees have of future work?

What irks us even more is the tone of the public statements issued by Hyams and the CEO. As shown below the Hyams document is nothing more than spin taken to the nth degree. The fact that employees can ‘transfer’ if they wish to the new employer ignores completely the fact that this only applies to permanent staff and not long term casuals and is at the mercy of the new owners as the McKenzie document (uploaded here) makes clear.

To see the impact that such a decision has had we publish one of several emails we have received. This is the human cost – something that our 9 councillors have obviously ignored and refused to put out for public debate!

This is my first time to get in touch with you, although I read your work with great interest. 

I do need to stay anonymous, as I am an employee …. of one of the aged care residents. Do with this information what you will but please let me stay anonymous.  

….. the very first I heard of this was this morning, February 6, 8.38 am in an email from mayor Jamie Hymes. Next communication came from the union, at 1.38 pm as I am an in-home-support staff as well. At 2.08 pm another email arrived from CEO Rebecca McKenzie, addressed to all employees of council. 

All this without any inkling or whisper and with not much notice either.  

As a permanent part-time staff of xxx years , working as an in-home-support worker, I can’t help but feel this is our fate for next year and this is exactly how it is going to be handled as well.  

….. as an employee, what I find most offensive is 1. this was all done in secrecy, 2. no ifs and buts 3. Council is offering for residents and staff free “shrink” sessions.  


And finally, the Union reaction –