Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has slammed the Federal Government for taking funding away from a local project.
The Government has taken back $3.685 million in funding that was previously allocated for the expansion of aged care services in Temora as part of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF Grant).
Whiddon Group Temora received the funding through round two of the BBRF Grant to aid with the expansion of its Narraburra Facility. The expansion would have provided an additional 50 beds.
Mr McCormack said the Government’s decision to strip away the funding was another dagger in the heart of regional Australia.
“Regional communities are screaming out for better aged care services and this decision contradicts what Labor says it stands for,” Mr McCormack said.
“The Frank Whiddon Masonic Lodge has been providing aged care services for the Temora town and region for more than 40 years.
“Not only will the town’s older residents suffer through this appalling decision, but employment opportunities will also be lost. The flow-on effect projects of this scale have on smaller country communities cannot be overstated,” he said.
The Federal Member said the pandemic, labour and supply issues were a challenge, but the Coalition government had been willing to work through the issues to ensure the best outcomes for all involved.
“This does not appear to be the case from this current Labor Government, which would much rather rip funding out of the regions,” he said.
“The Minister will duck and weave and say it was a decision of the department, but ministers are put there to make decisions, not cower behind a faceless department.
“If Labor was serious about improving outcomes in the regions, then it should start by reversing this appalling decision, posthaste,” he said.
Whiddon Group CEO Chris Mamarelis told Region the withdrawal of the fund awarded by the previous government was a disappointing outcome.
“Providing high-quality care and living environments is at the heart of everything we do at Whiddon,” Mr Mamarelis said.
“Despite the discontinuation of the BBRF grant, Whiddon understands the need for immediate building works at our Temora homes.
“This is why we have decided to proceed with our own investment of $700,000 to provide substantial improvements for residents, families, and our local team,” he said.
The Whiddon Group CEO said the organisation had commenced with its immediate investment despite the well-documented financial challenges the industry continued to experience.
Mr Mamarelis said Whiddon would continue with the investment while it explored further opportunities to fund the redevelopment of its home in Temora.
“The Government has indicated that another similar program may be implemented at a later date,” Mr Mamarelis said.
“Whiddon implores the Government to ensure this is brought to fruition to ensure regional operators can continue to provide the highest level of care to communities in which we operate.
“Our Whiddon Temora homes have already received a 100 per cent compliance rating as well as a 4-star and 3-star rating, respectively, in the new aged care star ratings,” he said.
Mr Mamarelis said the $700k renovation was set to deliver much-needed improvements to both homes and included minor interior and exterior repairs, new flooring in the hairdressing room and common areas, replacement of skylights, repainting, renovated external drop-off areas and access pathways, and staffroom refurbishment, among other items.