“No wonder they call it God’s waiting room.”
Except Wedderburn doesn’t have one.
Bob Hodges, reflecting on the lack of an aged care facility in the town he’s called home for the past 30 years, said most in need of care are taken to Inglewood or Charlton.
He considers it a displacement.
“People are taken from the community they’ve lived in for years, plonked in a different area where there’s less visitors, less family around – no wonder they call it God’s waiting room,” he said.
“We’ve got people who are in the most vulnerable stages of lives that need support. If we had one locally, people could pop in and say g’day – that’s better than any medication.”
Wedderburn Lions Club has been pushing for a local facility for its ageing population for a number of years, but the issue hasn’t gone away.
The club has identified land in Wilson Street it believes can cater for a 30-bed facility.
“We need politicians that are interested in the community, but until we get that it’s going to be a long haul,” Wedderburn Lions Club treasurer Barry Bolwell said.
The Lions club has allocated a portion of its funding to pursue an aged care facility, but that runs out in 2020.
“Unfortunately, we’re all getting older,” Mr Bolwell said.
In August, the Coalition promised $1.3 million for Wedderburn’s Donaldson Park Sporting Complex if elected.
Wedderburn is located in the seat of Ripon, the most marginal regional electorate in Victoria, held by Liberal MP Louise Staley on a margin of 0.75 per cent.
Mr Bolwell said he hoped that wouldn’t be the end of the funding promises.
“We really need something done about it (no aged care centre),” he said.
Mr Hodges said those in the town had broader concerns with health care provision, with no hospital and a doctor that services the wider region.
Mr Hodges, a former Ambulance Victoria Community Emergency Response Team member for seven years, said the lack of medical support in regional communities like Wedderburn has been apparent for a while.
Boort – the town that was supposed to die
Close a town's bank and the rest is history...
That’s not quite the case in Boort after its NAB branch closed in June.
That followed Commonwealth Bank’s branch closure in 2017.
IGA co-owner Dalip Chawla said the bank closures had been an added burden and disrupted cash flow, but “life doesn’t stop”.
The post office still allows those in the town to conduct basic banking, but carries additional charges, he said.
Cafe Renu owner Renu Pattison said the town hadn’t really felt the impact of the closures yet.
“It’s difficult to tell given the time of the year, but I don’t think it’s going to make that much of a difference,” she said.
Of greater concern to locals is the GP dilemma.
The town, until August 2017, had two full-time GPs.
In July, it was announced the clinic was to close in November, however Boort District Health on Friday confirmed it had reached an agreement with Australian Health Industry Group (AHIG) to operate the Boort Medical Clinic from November 2018.
This initial agreement will be to 30 June 2019 and is for the provision of one GP, according to chief executive officer Darren Clarke.
“We would prefer, in the long-term, for the provision of two doctors but in the interim we’ve put some money toward helping AHIG establish itself locally and we hope the relationship can work,” he said.
Mr Clarke said the situation was not unique to Boort, with clinics in Kerang, Wedderburn and Inglewood struggling to attract and keep GPs.
Little Lake Boort in need of a cash splash
As Paul Haw lets sand granules from Little Lake Boort slip between his fingers, he allows himself a wry smile.
“This place offers so much to the local economy,” he said.
The community had self-driven beautification works, including a boardwalk and statues and sculptures dotted around the lake, but more state and federal cash was required for larger projects like creating a new beach and improving facilities at the Caravan Park, housed on the northern side of the lake.
Addy heads to the region
Wedderburn and Boort are just two stories in a central Victorian region rich in diversity. The Bendigo Advertiser has visited, and will continue to visit, almost 30 towns in our region to capture its uniqueness and prevalent issues ahead of the state election.
To read further on some of the issues affecting other central Victorian towns, click here.
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