On 16 June we held a community meeting to outline the background of our campaign and to launch our petition:
Blue Haven Care was established some 40 years ago by Kiama Council, the purpose of this venture for Council was to establish good secure well-paying employment opportunities for local residents and to offer local residents a well serviced aged care facility where they could retire to locally. Blue Haven Care was also established by Council as an income generating asset for Council, that income Council would derive from Blue Have Care could then be allocated to offer other services and mitigate rate rises on the broader Community.
To the knowledge of residence of Blue Haven Care and ratepayers they understood everything at Council and at Blue Haven was going along well.
In late 2021, following some concerns under the previous administration, council conducted an audit of its finances.
On the 10th of February 2022 council released its current state of the organisation. This document is publicly available and identified significant debt associated with Blue Haven Care amounting to close to $100 million.
The United Services Union immediately approached Council and offered to assist Council find a way through these financial issues, offering to Council assist in arranging meetings with relevant State Ministers to organise meetings seeking potential financial assistance through the state government.
On the 12th of May 2022 in a confidential meeting of Councillors without any community consultation councillors voted to sell Blue Haven.
Resolution 5.1 ( in part)
3. For the purposes of protecting and sustaining the core role of the local government authority, that delegated authority be given to the Chief Executive Officer to sign all documentation associated with the contract to McVay Real Estate for the purposes of undertaking a sale through public tender for Blue Haven Lot 2 DP1215276 and Lot 71 DP831089.
It was clear from this resolution that there was no intention to consult with the community, it is clear from this resolution that there was no consideration or public release of a possible plan to retain Blue Haven Care.
Council has refused to make this report public – the Forsyth report which is the independent audit which would inform the community on what had occurred under the previous administration.
On the 13th of May 2022 councillor Karen Renkema-Lang raised a recission motion supported by Greens Councillors Kathy Rice and Jodi Keats to not sell the service. It stated:
“That Minute No 22/058OC of the Extraordinary Council meeting held on 12 May 2022 regarding item 5.1 Forensic accounting assessment be rescinded”
On the 23rd of March 2022 council held an extraordinary meeting to consider the recission motion. Both the USU and former Mayor Sandra McCarthy spoke in favour of the recission motion, and on Council retaining Blue Haven Care. During another confidential meeting, the recission motion was amended to remove the immediate sale, and consider all options including keeping the service, selling, leasing or entering into a partnership arrangement.
The union has continued discussions with the council management and it appears clear that the focus still seems to be for the sale of Blue Haven Care rather than a stronger focus on the option of keeping. We believe the recission motion as framed by the amendments is being used to press and establish a basis for sale.
Councillors need to be made aware that the community supports maintaining this vital Community asset.
The community needs to be included and consulted on the future of Blue Haven Care and Kiama Council and a strong message must go to all those with a vested interest, that Council does not have a mandate to sell off and privatise this public asset, Blue Haven Care.
Please Sign our Petition
If you would like any further information please contact the United Services Union Wollongong Office on (02) 4226 4784 or our local official Aarron Vann on 0419 626 330.