The agenda for next Tuesday night’s Special Council Meeting has been published. This focus of the upcoming meeting is to hear submissions on the sale of the three council owned and run aged care facilities. We remind readers that council has already made the decision to sell behind closed doors and without any warning to residents, employees, or the general community.

The accompanying officer’s report is nothing more than a regurgitation of ‘legalities’ – ie. which part of current legislation has been adhered to; where public notice was published etc. It contains not a single word of justification, or explanation, as to why the decision to sell was made. All that residents have to go on is the Q and A ‘work in progress’ on council’s website. This has been added to over the past few weeks in response, we believe, to public outcry. Yet the crucial questions remain unanswered.

Submissions are an opportunity for residents to express their views, dissect the arguments and to assess whether or not they are valid. With nothing to go on in terms of real ‘facts’, what we will hear on Tuesday night is likely to be highly emotional/personal and with references to ‘social responsibility’. Nothing wrong with this. However, in order to dissuade council from progressing the sale, residents need far more than mere assertions such as:

  • Private companies are better suited to deliver complex aged care
  • Monies from the sale will be redirected to the most ‘vulnerable’ in our community

How about some real facts and figures, such as:

  • How much has council been subsidizing aged care over the past 5 years? What role has this played in the decision to sell?
  • How many staff are affected? If only 40% of current staff are offered ongoing employment is council prepared to accept this?
  • What evidence can council provide that private companies are more suited to carry out the demands of aged care in the current climate, and especially with a Royal Commission to go through?
  • What percentage of the monies garnered from the sale will be redirected to the ‘vulnerable’ in our society and how much will go into general ‘revenue’?
  • Will council be seeking a guarantee that after the current residents’ term of tenure has expired, that the purchaser will not sell the land or seek to develop a residential estate?
  • Has council already sought a valuation of the land and will this be made public?
  • Does council intend to also outsource its home help? If so why?

We wish all submitters the best of luck next Tuesday night and reiterate that submissions can only be as good as the information that is provided. Once again, this council has shown itself to be far more comfortable working in secret and keeping its populace ignorant!