Seniors in long wait for housing

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

Elderly low-income pensioners may have to wait even longer for aged-care units in Margaret River amid 11th-hour talks and a change in direction.

Provider Baptistcare’s plan to acquire units from the Department of Communities’ housing division, sitting empty for more than three years, have hit another hurdle after the operator flagged a new plan for its Mirrambeena and Silver Vines aged-care centres.

Thirteen units were still idle this week after a November 30 deadline passed with no resolution — and no clear reasons for the hold-up.

Baptistcare chief executive Russell Bricknell said before Christmas, the Department of Communities presented “new options” to the aged-care operator.

“While we are not in a position to discuss the detail, we have been carefully working through these options to ensure we make the right decision for seniors who are seeking affordable housing in the Margaret River region,” he said.

“We remain committed to working closely with the Department of Communities to achieve the best possible outcome for the local community and are meeting with them in the next fortnight to further our plans.”

The units were earmarked for low-income earners, and the lengthy delay has left some pensioners in limbo waiting for placement.

WA Housing Minister Peter Tinley declined to comment on the delay.

Department of Communities acting assistant director-general of commissioning and sector engagement Brad Jolly also declined to offer details on the new options.

“The Department of Communities continues to work with Baptistcare on the long-term future of the Silver Vines and Mirrambeena independent-living villages for seniors in Margaret River,” he said. “An announcement will be made once an agreement has been reached.”

“Baptistcare remains responsible for the management and maintenance of units in the villages.”

Housing sits within the scandal-rocked department, which shocked Western Australians late last year with news of an alleged $22 million fraud case, with charges brought against one of its most senior bureaucrats, Paul Whyte, who has since lost his job.

A Housing spokesman said the scandal had not affected resolution of the stand-off with Baptistcare.

Aged-care advocates told the Times the delays caused anguish for low-income elderly residents waiting for secure lodgings.

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