AS Australia’s population ages, the Shire of Kalamunda is faced with the challenges of housing the elderly in their twilight years.
Vocal campaigners on behalf of the elderly believe nothing has been done since the 1970s to provide more aged care residences for seniors in the area.
Lesmurdie activist Iris Jones has even demanded the resignation of Kalamunda MLA John Day because she said the issue rested largely at the feet of the local representative.
“I am concerned at the crisis in aged care in Minister John Day’s electorate,” Mrs Jones said.
“Why it is that after 23 years in office, the Minister has not been able to address this crisis?”
Mr Day said he was in frequent communication with existing and potential aged care providers to encourage the development of new facilities.
Mrs Jones said she was concerned the Shire’s elderly were being relegated to the scrap heap by a State Government that had “passed the buck” on aged care.
“In the Minister’s electorate, countless families are distressed when their loved ones are exiled to far away suburbs for care,” she said.
“They never come home, they die there.
“Facilities in Mandurah and Joondalup have been accommodating our elderly for years.”
Mrs Jones said the lack of respite care was a problem that had been ignored for decades as families dealing with loved ones who needed a break from caring were pushed to the outer limits of Perth to find care facilities.
“A plan for an integrated aged care complex in Wattle Grove, which would relieve the crisis, was passed to the Planning Minister from the Planning Commission before Christmas for a final decision and after seven months, there is still no decision on it,” she said.
“What possible reason can Mr Day and his government give for this unconscionable delay? After 14 years advocating for the elderly, I am deeply concerned.”
Mrs Jones said she started advocating for elderly residences in the area when she was 58.
She is a former employee at the Shire of Kalamunda where she worked for 20 years.
“I am now 72 and nothing has been done in the 14 years since I started,” she said.
“Minister Day has procrastinated on this matter for years and if there is good reason for the delay on this matter, then he owes it to his constituents to give it. My age group are constantly being fobbed off by our elected member and it’s simply not good enough.”
Mr Day said he was aware of the need for new and additional residential aged care accommodation in the area.
“The State Government does not control or have the responsibility of funding aged care facilities, that is the role of the Federal Government,” he said.
Mr Day said there were approvals for more beds in Parry House, Valencia Nursing Home in Carmel and Villa Maria in Lesmurdie.
“Approval was recently given by the Federal Government for an additional 210 beds from these facilities,” he said.
Kalamunda President Andrew Waddell said he and Shire representatives had met Planning Minister Donna Faragher on July 27 over the Wattle Grove site.
“We spoke to Ms Faragher about concerns over the delays and amendments to planning, which has slowed the process,” he said.
“We don’t have anything firm yet but I received the impression that the planning department would move a lot quicker than in the past over the site in Gavour Road,” Mr Waddell said.
Cr Noreen Townsend said there were four potential other sites for aged care facilities. These were York Street and Hale Road in Forrestfield, Wilkins Road in Kalamunda and Dawson Avenue in Forrestfield.
Ms Faragher’s office confirmed she met the Shire of Kalamunda to discuss the planning matters and said she would consider their views along with Amendment 57 planning matter relevant to Gavour Road in Wattle Grove.
“When the amendment is presented to me for determination I will consider the council’s view,” Ms Faragher said.
Mr Day said as the member for Kalamunda he remained committed to aged care in the area.
“As indicated previously I share the strong desire to develop more aged care accommodation in the Kalamunda area, and continue to work to achieve this.”