Hewson's View | January 13

SUB-STANDARD: With almost 40 percent of the Wingecarribee population aged over 55, our aged care facilities are faltering.

SUB-STANDARD: With almost 40 percent of the Wingecarribee population aged over 55, our aged care facilities are faltering.

I have founded, built and reformed several charities and not-for-profit ventures over several decades.

While I have been impressed by the generosity of the Australian public in response to major events and tragedies, both here and overseas, it has generally been a lot harder to raise money for the smaller, local ventures, even when many of these have much greater significance to individuals and businesses and to their communities.

I have been critical in the past of the fact that Tulip Time has often funded national charities, that quite frankly don’t need the money, at the expense of local charities that are generally struggling, living from hand to mouth, day in, day out.

A current example is the Wingecarribee Adult Day Care Centres, that is attempting to raise about $300,000 to fund an essential extension and upgrade to its Bowral centre.

The purpose of Wingecarribee Adult Day Centres Inc. is to support people who are frail aged and their carers living in their own homes in the Wingecarribee area.

They do this by providing social groups and respite to prevent premature or inappropriate institutionalisation.

While they can get financial support from the Federal Government to cover operating costs, they have been told, by both the Federal and State Governments, that there is “no money for infrastructure”.

Aging is a very significant issue in our shire, with almost 40 percent of our population aged over 55, roughly four times what it was when the Bowral Centre was opened in 1989, and is forecast by the ABS to reach nearly 47 percent by 2030.

I have written in the past in this column about the inadequacy of the local services for the aged, especially medical and hospital, and support services.

In many respects, this is a challenge now approaching crisis proportions.

These day care centres, by giving many of our aged ‘a life’, help to minimize the call on the government’s health and ageing budgets, and as such are a sensible investment.

Individuals are generally healthier, and able to stay in their homes longer, thereby reducing the need for residential aged care.

However, the Extension Appeal, chaired by 2ST’s Graeme Day, is finding it tough, being essentially fobbed off by the local council, and getting only soothing words from the State and Federal local members but no significant money except for a $30,000 grant from the Springett Foundation.

Governments and councils claim the fiscal benefits of prevention rather than cure, and most would claim to have a ‘Positive Aging Policy’, yet all this is little more than hollow rhetoric.

I am aware of successful community fundraisings in the past, such as the BDCU led campaign to fund the Children’s Wing at the public hospital.

It now needs to be done again, drawing on both individuals and local businesses, perhaps challenging the council and governments to match the efforts of the local community.

The existing Bowral centre, the Carribee Centre, is close to capacity and needs to be upgraded.

The case for an upgrade is overwhelming, and the need is urgent.

Let’s see what we can do, perhaps through the pages of the Southern Highland News.

– John Hewson

  • To volunteer or donate to the Wingecarribee Adult Day Care Centre visit their website at www.wadcc.org.au.
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