Council News - Thursday 6 August 2015

Latest News from Mayor Kathy Sajowitz

Of major concern at the moment is the future of the Meals on Wheels service in our community. Almost eighty concerned residents attended the public meeting hosted by Acting Health Service Manager Chris Tabone of Oberon MPS, along with representatives from Bathurst Meals on Wheels (MoW’s) the provider of choice for Health Western NSW Local Health District, who from 1 August, for economic reasons, will no longer facilitate the service. The Community was advised that Health Western NSWLHD made the decision not to put the service to tender for a local provider but to approach Bathurst MoW’s as they already have a funding contract.

There was no consultation with the Oberon Community or the Clients regarding the changes until few weeks before it was to take place. Bathurst MoW’s has agreed to take on this service as a trial until 31 October when the new funding agreements take effect to ensure that they are able to provide the service to Oberon and that there are sufficient volunteers in Oberon to deliver the meals. They are not happy with the limited time to get the service started and would have preferred the Oberon MPS continue until the end of August but they are doing their best to ensure that the Oberon clients receive a meal. A subsequent meeting was called for Friday July 31 to inform current and potential volunteers of the new procedures and guidelines.

It was disappointing that no representative from Health Western NSWLHD was available to attend either of these meetings despite having been aware of the proposed changes for almost a year. Also unfortunate was the fact that the Oberon MPS management staff was aware for several months yet the community and vulnerable clients of the service were not informed nor consulted until the plans were set in place. 

Consultation between the new providers and the Oberon clients was carried out last week, and it was ascertained that all clients were happy to heat their own frozen meals daily. Some clients opted for a once a week delivery of seven meals, some for a twice weekly delivery and some for a daily delivery. All these options will be catered for. I found the new facilitators to be well organised and efficient.

With the imminent retirement of long time coordinator Marie Fitzpatrick, Bathurst MoWs will partly fund (from the existing Oberon funding) the hours of a new local coordinator, Oberon Council will fund the balance. Susan Lee will take up this role, coordinating a volunteer driver roster, distributing the meals to the drivers, and liaising with Bathurst MoW’s. The service will operate out of the office under the Community Technology Centre/Visitor Information Centre in Ross Street from Monday August 3. For the service to survive local volunteers are essential, especially on weekends and for emergency situations should a rostered volunteer be unavailable. Community members wanting to become a volunteer driver should contact either Marie Fitzpatrick on 0409 247 856, Susan Lee on susan.lee@oberon.nsw.gov.au, or Bathurst MoW’s on 6331 8231.

Deputy Mayor Kerry Gibbons and I attended Education Week assemblies at the local schools last week. Always a pleasure to interact with our vibrant and engaged school communities.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Brotchie and Robin Toedter for the recognition of the work they do in our community through Friends of Rotary. Oberon excels in its “volunteering ethos” with many many volunteer workers adding to the social fabric of our town, we would be lost without them.

I urge all our young people to think about entering the regional song writing competition promoted by OYC and organised by Mickey Pye, Kurt Booth and Rosie Ward. The songs will be performed at concerts throughout the area in November with all proceeds going to Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets Program. We have a heap of talent in Oberon lets showcase some of it.

For Oberon residents travelling to Bathurst, be aware that the Lee St traffic diversion will be in place from 12 August to accommodate the Great Western Highway upgrade at Kelso.