Council Column - 23 March 2021 - Councillor Tony Flanery

23/03/2021


There are number of issues which could be written about but the 2 most pertinent to me are the recent closure of St Lawrence Retirement Home at Harden operated by Southern Cross Care and the issue of Consent.
 
 
In mid January this year Southern Cross Care unexpectedly announced the closure of the retirement home at Harden which took immediate effect. Southern Cross began to move residents to their other facilities principally Young and Cootamundra.

It was a decision that rocked the residents and staff alike as no-one saw it coming.
The retirement home originated in Galong when the then boys boarding school closed in the early 1970’s. A group of dedicated and selfless individuals formed a  committee to rebuild the boarding school and turn it into a retirement home.

It opened in 1977 with 30 beds and a debt but with much hard work, community spirit and serious fund raising, the facility went on to become home for many residents under the keen eye  and watchful care of Dulcy Luke and John Killick along with many other staff.
In 2005 Southern Cross Care were gifted the facility by the Catholic Church, when they decided to exit Aged Care provision. Southern Cross Care soon after, closed Galong and opened a new  facility at Harden on land provided to them by the Freemasons.

13 years later it has now closed for reasons not fully explained and definitely not understood by locals. 35 residents were hurriedly moved to other villages and around 40 staff were left without jobs. Very, very sadly 4 residents passed away within a month of the decision. That’s over 10%. Who knows if these family members were affected by the events but I am sure it didn’t help them.

 It is a decision that lacks any form of compassion or care for all concerned and certainly shows a complete lack of understanding of rural communities. To think of the work and community involvement that went into making St Lawrence the wonderful caring home that it was for so many only to have all that destroyed by a decision based on corporate motivation. It is little wonder that the government called for a Royal Commission.

Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Harden Regional Development Corporation (HRDC),  Steph Cooke and the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack have been working closely with  providers from neighbouring towns in an effort to reopen the facility. I am not privy to the negotiations but I am certainly hopeful that there will be some good news soon.

In the National spotlight recently has been the issue of consent- particularly sexual consent. The common theme that I hear is that it is a complex issue. There is nothing complex about understanding what NO means. Boys and men and all of society need to learn and understand that no one has the right to infringe anyone else’s liberty. Either party being intoxicated is no excuse.

We all have collective responsibility to ensure that if a girl says NO to or during a sexual encounter then that is her right. It is not a case of continued coercion until she finally relents.

Tony Flanery