PREMIER Mark McGowan is expected to head to Lesmurdie tomorrow to officially announce a new State Government cross-departmental group has been established to fast-track the development of aged care facilities.
The working group comprises the departments of Health, Planning, Lands and Heritage, Local Government and Communities which will identify under-utilised state-owned land and infrastructure that could be made available to aged care providers to build new residential aged care facilities.
City of Swan Community Care Services advisory committee president Ron Carey said the working group, initiated by Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes, was the best news his committee had heard since they began their campaign in 2015.
“We have been saying that the equity in certain parcels of land owned by the State Government and the City should be used for much-needed community support services, such as aged care facilities, and not simply sold off to generate additional revenue for the City and the State,” he said.
“We suggested the need to identify suitable parcels of State Government owned land and remove existing planning and local government impediments, to increase the supply of land available to the aged care sector so they could build new quality facilities to meet the needs of our ageing community.”
Mr Carey said the findings of a report into the ageing population showed more than 1000 new aged care places will be needed in the City alone by 2036.
“The population of the City is predicted to double by 2031 to more than 220,000,” he said.
“This means that 10.5 new 100-bed aged care facilities will be needed here by 2036.
“There are seven aged care facilities currently operating in the City with a total of 587 beds.
“While there is talk about new facilities being built in Middle Swan and West Midland, these proposed developments are years away from being available.
“To our knowledge Paradise Quays in Ballajura is the only facility confirmed to be built and it is still two to three years away from being operational.”
Mr Carey said the decommissioned Swan Districts Hospital site provided the State Government with the perfect opportunity to show their full commitment to the new initiative.
“They could do this by placing a condition over the sale of this asset to require any future buyer to include a new residential aged care facility on the site as part of any future multi-mix development proposal,” he said.
ACT Kalamunda convenor Malcolm Roberts said it was pleasing to see the State Government move proactively to address the aged care crisis.
“Aged care beds are sorely needed in the City of Kalamunda, with all the facilities fully booked with waiting lists,” he said.
“The lack of places mean many elderly people needing high care are displaced from their homes, friends and families because they need to move to aged care places as far afield as Fremantle and Joondalup.”
Friends of Aged Care spokeswoman Iris Jones said the City of Kalamunda had been ‘seriously neglected’ over the past 40 years by all levels of government.
“No new facilities have been built here for more than 40 years and there have been no new beds in place despite a bed allocation in 2016,” she said.
“There are constraints to building aged care facilities here including a lack of available land and the huge cost to providers to build on-site sewage disposal,” she said.
“Add into the mix our difficult topography, upgraded bushfire restrictions, and aggressive opposition experienced from both local residents and conservationists and you have a very difficult landscape to build new facilities.”
The working group is expected to prepare a report by the end of the year.