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F.C.A.T.A. Update – 23rd Sept 2011

FCATA
F.C.A.T.A. Update – 23rd Sept 2011 …
FCATA LogoThis months update is more of the same I’m afraid. To try and lift the profile of the FCATA in a direct way with Councillors and try to have them engage – I attended the Maryborough Council meeting on the 17th Aug and again attended the Hervey Bay Meeting on the 7th Sept. The Council Minutes reflect the address I gave during the public participation as follows:

Minutes of the FCRC Ordinary Meeting No. 15
held on Wednesday 17 August 2011 Page 4
ORD 7 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
ORD 7.4 Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre

Ian Bleys, 43 Wide Bay Drive, Eli Waters
Mr Bleys addressed Council on his support for the action being taken at the meeting to reduce admission fees at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre. He said that this region had approximately 5,500 disability pensioners and believed it to be the highest in Queensland. He sought Council’s support to use the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre for aqua therapy sessions to help people with disabilities improve their quality of life.

________________________________________

Minutes of the FCRC Ordinary Meeting No. 16
held on Wednesday 7 September 2011 Page 4
ORD 7 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
ORD 7.3 Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Association

Mr Ian Bleys, Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Association referred to a proposal regarding the Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Association which had been sent to the Chief Executive Officer and Councillors, and said a reply was still awaited regarding this matter and the proposed programme which would be beneficial to disabled people.

These minutes are but a fraction of what was said and don’t fully reflect what I was trying to say in both my address’ – I don’t know who vets these minutes but they do a very poor job on accuracy and content.

After the 17th Aug Meeting I received a visit from Councillor Hawes – no other Councillor of Council staff made contact. Ms Hawes is a genuine soul and she does have some appreciation for the intent of the program. I appreciate her support.

In pursuing the Council I sent Ms Desmond the following e-mail message on the 29th Aug as a followup to the Council address –

From: Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Assoc [mailto:fcata@bigpond.com]
Sent: Monday, 29 August 2011 1:26 PM
To: Lisa DESMOND (Lisa.Desmond@frasercoast.qld.gov.au)
Cc: All-Councillors@frasercoast.qld.gov.au; Chris FOLEY; Ted SORENSEN;Mr Paul Neville
Subject: FCATA Pool Admission arrangements

Dear Ms Desmond,

I refer to the e-mail exchanges we had prior to the Council Meeting held on the 17th Aug and the concession admission process submission presented at that meeting.

In those message messages sent to you – and previous messages – I asked a number of questions you still have not responded to – can I please have some answers?

Specifically – I had ask if you followed up with Gladstone Council as you said you would in our July conversation about their GATA program and their free admission for all concession card holders between 8-9am Mon – Fri?

And – the question on 7:30-9:00 am ‘free’ access to the pool for FCATA members in line with the GATA concessions granted by the Gladstone City Council – where the FCATA pay Council a part of the FCATA membership fee for that access – what progress has been made on this issue?

The safety upgrades necessary – has any progress been made to have them addressed?

Have you pressed the Amenities upgrades necessary to the expenditures allocations Committees you indicated would have review any specific needs required to address the Aqua Therapy requirements – if you recall you indicated those meeting are about to take place around this time of year –

This Council has taken well over two years to address the disability access raised – how long before Council addresses the rehabilitative aqua-therapy requirements of this community?

Regards … Ian Bleys.

———————————————————————————————–
Fraser Coast Aqua-Therapy Association – Proposed
Contact Information:
The Proposer –
Ph/Fax: 61 7 41 941 081

Ms Desmond has neither acknowledged this message or responded in any way. I n fact that was one of the reasons I went to the 7th Sept meeting to front Ms Desmond and directly ask her why she has not responded. That was also ignored in the time since passed.

In the two weeks since that meetiing – her non response was further engaged when sent her another e-mail message on the 20th Sept – to follow up a similar message I sent her on the 29th Aug. The latest message is pasted below –

From: Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Assoc [mailto:fcata@bigpond.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 20 September 2011 7:27 PM
To: Lisa DESMOND (Lisa.Desmond@frasercoast.qld.gov.au)
Cc: All-Councillors@frasercoast.qld.gov.au
Subject: FCATA Proposal – What Progress has been made to address the issues raised …

Dear Ms Desmond,

I have been patient – some two weeks after I fronted the Council and 4 weeks after the previous address to Council in Maryborough – and you still have not acknowledged my correspondence. I also note that no Councillor has been in contact since I addressed the Council two weeks ago.

You have not responded to at least 3 previous e-mail messages – they were asking you directly what action you have taken to follow up on undertakings you made in our phone conversation over 2 months ago.

Prior to these messages you asked me to submit a proposal and I spent a good month preparing that document and it was sent to you in May – 4 months ago …

Ms Desmond your last e-mail sent to FCATA was on the 15th Aug when you spoke of the final amendments to the concession card entry prices. Let me remind you once again – all your efforts have achieved is to bring this Council’s Pool admission prices to the same levels on offer from all your surrounding Councils.

Your Councilmen sat on this issue for almost 2 years defying and denying those same concessions – your appointment triggered a breakthrough but only because the Council was wrong in its price settings.

Please don’t think that this a Council goodwill concession – just measure all the past years when concession card holders have had to pay the same admission price as the general public for season tickets as a yardstick on fairness.

Your Council has an obligation to try to help those in most need within this community – and as has been presented to you in the Proposal – FCATA members having free access to the pool between 7:30 and 9:00am will not inconvenience the H/Bay public pool in any way. The offer was made for part of the FCATA membership fees to be paid to Council for that concession.
Your undertaking to contact Gladstone Council to learn about the GATA program should have enlightened you as to how their Aqua Therapy program has helped their community.

A similar program in Hervey Bay would service a much larger local demographic with 25% on the FCRC area being either an Aged pensioner or a Disability pensioner. In recent communications you gave undertakings that you have not followed through on – I now ask you again to engage on this issue and honour your commitments and obligations to the residents living in this Council region.

Kind Regard … Ian Bleys.
———————————————————————————————–
Fraser Coast Aqua-Therapy Association – Proposed
Contact Information:
The Proposer

… and to this message there still has been no response from Ms Desmond or any of her staff that she might have staffed this out to.

However – I did received two responses from Councillors Brooks and Hovard thanking me for the CC message.

There is not a lot I can say – yet when I read the Independents articles on Ms Desmond’s two weeks ago and what a the opinion about what a wonderful asset she seems to be – I scratch my head and ask – can all that was written be true … then why has she not bothered to engage on such an important issue that has the potential to improve the quality of life for 25% of the FCRC residents?

I would like to write an article about this Council and really let loose on their actual awareness and lack of understanding on what the FCATA is trying to achieve.

Councillor Brooks came back the same day with a response:

Thanks Ian. I still believe you are asking Council to set up a programme itself or for us to give FCATA members free access to the pool. Is this your desire?
Cheers, Sue

There were a few back and forth messages that followed and never achieved anything – in the end Cr Brooks has her head buried somewhere and just does not want to get involved on this issue other than she thinks the FCATA wants something for nothing.

In the last nine months every Councillor has been sent every bit of information about the FCATA and its agenda. If they had of bothered to read any of the detail they would know and understand what this program is about and is trying to achieve. Having now addressed the FCRC Councillors twice – and awaited their response – I was hoping my appeals to the FCRC may have provoked more enquiry and interest … but no – their level of perceived interest is still zero.

Scott Rowe from the Independent ran a story a few weeks ago and that also drew no response from Council. He indicated that when they were asked for a response comment – the answer was ‘no comment’.

Ms Desmond said she would advertise the new concession admission pool prices passed in May in their electronic Newsletter – that has not happened either.

The Disability and pensioner demographic do not have a real voice in this region. Sheila King does wonderful work for her ‘Australia for all’ advocacy group – and there are more than 50 other advocacy and charity carer organisations in the region – but in summary – they all fear speaking out or becoming advocates for a better deal and risking their existing and future funding grants.

Please use this link to make contact with FCATA if you want to be involved in this continuing battle to get an aqua-therapy program up and running. E-Mail: fcata@bigpond.com – Ph: 07 41941081.

All I can offer is that whilst I remain healthy I will keep putting this issue in front of Council and other avenues available.

Lets continue the battle.

________________________________________

FCATA Web Master …

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F.C.A.T.A. Update – 24th Aug 2011

FCATA
F.C.A.T.A. Update – 24th Aug 2011
FCATA LogoThe Fraser Coast Regional Council(FCRC) at their 15th Ordinary Meeting held 17th Aug 2011 – voted to introduce 50% reductions on season admission prices for rehabilitation entry fees.

Prior to this council vote – and previous to the April ’11 vote to amend concession card holders entry fees – the cost for entry on season tickets for all pensioners and disabled was the same as the public entry cost. In April ’11 – Council decreased concession season tickets by 27% and 30% for half and full year entry.

The rehabilitation entry was not dealt with during this realignment of pool entry fees – this oversight was again bought to Council’s attention in May ’11 and this new resolution to introduce 50% reduced season tickets for rehabilitation entry was introduced as follows at the FCRC Aug 17th meeting:

ITEM NO: ORD 11.3 – FRASER COAST REGIONAL COUNCIL – ORDINARY MEETING NO. 15 – WEDNESDAY 17 AUGUST 2011
SUBJECT: HERVEY BAY AQUATIC CENTRE
DIRECTORATE: Community & Development
RESPONSIBLE OFFICER: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, Lisa Desmond
AUTHOR: EM COMMUNITY & CULTURE, Debra Moore
DOC NO: #2051965 LINK TO CORPORATE / OPERATIONAL PLAN: 3.3.2, 3.2.1 & 3.2.3

1. PURPOSE

To provide an update for Council on fee structure and infrastructure changes to the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre.

2. BACKGROUND & PREVIOUS COUNCIL CONSIDERATION

Since July 2010 there have been a number of significant changes to the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre in relation to the fees and charges and infrastructure changes. There are also grants in progress for further improvements. Some of the upgrades and fee re-structure has been in direct response from members of the community seeking changes, while others have been identified through forward planning and maintenance scheduling.

Infrastructure changes have included:

  • Construction of a Life Guard Station and the refurbishment of the amenities as a result of forward planning;
  • Grant application approved to install a new lifting device for access to the covered heated pool and for a new replacement wheelchair, identified through general maintenance of existing equipment;
  • Heaters to the 25m outside pool have recently been replaced as a result of the previous heaters being at the end of their useful life; and
  • A grant application submitted to the Department of Sport & Recreation for a roof over the 25m outdoor pool after negotiations with a major user of the complex.

In a separate report to Council in April (Ordinary Meeting No. 7) concession passes were introduced for half yearly and seasonal passes in response to a community enquiry.

The approved fees and charges for 2011/2012 made changes to the daily rates and the 20 entry pass to include pensioner and concession rates and also a further discount for those on a rehabilitation program with authority from their medical doctor. This is as a response to improving business practices and in response to community representations to Council. Council has signed up with Disability Services Queensland for the Companion Card so that holders are able to have their carer or support worker receive free entry. This was from a direct request from a community member with a Companion Card. To provide further consistency to our current rates and charges it is proposed to seek approval for a 20 entry pass and season passes for those on rehabilitation with a letter from their medical doctor.

3. PROPOSAL

Council has been approached regarding the consistency of concessions for single entry and pass entry fees.

Adult Child Pensioner Concession Certified Rehabilitation*
Single Entry $3.70 $2.90 $2.90 $1.95
20 entry Pass $61.00 $49.00 $49.00 N/A
Half Year Pass $164.00 $115.00 $115.00 N/A
Full Year Pass $293.00 $211.00 $211.00 N/A

Note: 2010/11 a total of 1,104 rehabilitation single entry fees occurred.

*Holder of Disability Pension Card or Health Care Card – for rehabilitation purposes must provide letter from Medical Doctor certifying that aquatic activity is a requirement of rehabilitation. To ensure consistency with the concessions offered on single entry and passes for certified rehabilitation purposes with other pension concessions it is proposed to amended the fees and charges to include the follow:

Adult Child Pensioner Concession Certified Rehabilitation* (New Proposed)
Single Entry $3.70 $2.90 $2.90 $1.95
20 entry Pass $61.00 $49.00 $49.00 $33.00
Half Year Pass $164.00 $115.00 $115.00 $77.00
Full Year Pass $293.00 $211.00 $211.00 $142.00

This provides concessions for certified rehabilitation purposes of up to 50% on a standard adult entry free. To provide clarity for the Certified Rehabilitation it is proposed to amend the wording on the schedule to read: Certified Rehabilitation (see Note 1 below) which reads ¡§Must provide letter from Medical Doctor certifying that aquatic activity is a requirement of rehabilitation.

Further, in response to a request from the Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Association for details on availability and access hours, Council has advised the Association that unrestricted access is available to all users (outside of the Learn to Swim School classes) during the hours of 11am – 3pm Monday to Friday, 12 – 4pm on Saturdays and 10am – 4pm on Sundays for use of the indoor heated pool and anytime during normal opening hours for use of the 25m outdoor heated pool and the 50m pool.

4. CONSULTATION

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Manager Aquatic Centre
  • Community Members

5. CONCLUSION

These initiatives have and will improve accessibility to the aquatic centre as an important rehabilitation and recreational facility.

OFFICERS RECOMMENDATION

That Council:

  • Receives and note the report; and
  • Amends the fees and charges to include a 20 entry pass, half yearly and all year season pass for those requiring rehabilitation with a letter from their Medical Doctor as follows:
  • 20 entry pass – $33.00
  • Half year – $77.00 (Summer 1 Oct to 31 March/Winter 1 April to 30 September)
  • All year – $142.00 (1 October onwards)

ATTACHMENTS:
NIL

This resolution was voted and and the following minute is recorded in the 17th Aug Minutes.

[These minutes can be viewed on-line using the following link: http://www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/web/guest/2011-ordinary-meetings]

ORD 11 OFFICERS REPORTS
ORD 11.3 – Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre
RESOLUTION ( Dalgleish / MucKan )

That Council:
1. Receives and note the report; and
2. Amends the fees and charges to include a 20 entry pass, half yearly and all year season pass for those requiring rehabilitation with a letter from their Medical Doctor as follows:

  • 20 entry pass – $33.00
  • Half year – $77.00 (Summer 1 Oct to 31 March/Winter 1 April to 30 September)
  • All year – $142.00 (1 October onwards)

Carried Unanimously
Ord 15/747/08/11

As the instigator of the Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Assoc (FCATA) – I attended the 17th Aug Council meeting and addressed the meeting during the Public Participation forum – the minutes of the 17th Aug FCRC meeting recorded this as follows:

ORD 7 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
ORD 7.4 Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre
Ian Bleys, 43 Wide Bay Drive, Eli Waters
Mr Bleys addressed Council on his support for the action being taken at the meeting to reduce admission fees at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre. He said that this region had approximately 5,500 disability pensioners and believed it to be the highest in Queensland. He sought Council’s support to use the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre for aqua therapy sessions to help people with disabilities improve their quality of life.

This address was hoped to incite some interest among the Councillors who have shown no interest in this matter since it was first raised two and a half years ago. The motion approved above only addresses what was put before Council in MAr 2009 – it only brings this Council region into line with what other Regional Councils had offered their constituents for many years.

Council have no right to feel proud on this issue – they lag behind all the Councils – and for almost 12 months now the FCATA has been trying to engage the Council on matters relating to improvements to the pool facilities for disabled patrons, for recognition of the FCATA in that they are trying to provide a means in which members of FCATA can involve themselves with a self-help aqua therapy program to improve the quality of their lives.

This council, and in particular the CEO Ms Desmond – have given undertakings to address some of the FCATA issues – since May – very little has been achieved and Council believe that the motion passed 17th Aug – addresses the FCATA matters raised.

If not for Ms Desmond’s involvement since she became CEO – none of what has happened to date – i.e. concession season price reductions – would have occurred. The Mayor (Mr Kruger) was against the proposal from the start – and of the 11 Councillors only Cr’s Brooks, Hawes, Hovard have responded to any of the ‘read receipt’ requests requested on e-mails sent to All-Councillors.

A point to note is that in the 17th Aug meeting the Hervey Bay Aquatic Pool was isolated and the fee restructure does not apply to the Maryborough Pool. This was bought to the attention to the Council during my public address yet in the minutes of that address – it indicates that my cause was for Hervey Bay residents only – this was not so – Cr Brooks made a comment as follows when we corresponded on this issue before the Council meeting.

” … The Maryborough Swimming Pool is leased and not under the same mechanism of direct control than the Bay pool is. I thought you would have known that by now…’

I responded to Cr Brooks telling her that all Maryborough Pool’s previous concessions were the same as the Hervey Bay pool – and asked why should this concession be any different. She has not responded to this question since.

I continue to believe that most of the Council members have no real interest in FCATA and what benefits it can offer and provide to Fraser Coast residents seeking aqua therapy rehabilitation.

Over the next few weeks/months I intend to go to more Council meetings to raise the profile of the FCATA requests directly to Council in a public way. The matters already talked about with Ms Desmond and her undertakings will be pursued during this forum. The lack of Councillor involvement will also be highlighted – particularly when some $300,000 in grant money was handed over to the Hervey Bay Tennis Club on the back of efforts by members of Council. This was for recreational activities and surely similar support should be available for rehabilitation services.

The Tennis Club has a membership appeal of a few thousand – and the disabled and elderly has a FCRC base in excess of 20,000. Council have to be made to recognise the benefits that will be available to so many of the Fraser Coast region via the FCATA when Council decide to get behind the program.

As with any battle – front line troops are needed. Single handed battles against a Council rarely have a victory – in this instance a two and half year battle has been won – and only because Ms Desmond had the pluck once she became CEO to take and make a case for Council to reconsider their position. Other Councillors and Council staff have not been so interested in promoting the FCATA – and to continue this fight more troops are needed.

Please use this link to make contact if you want to be involved in this continuing FCATA battle:

E-Mail: fcata@bigpond.com – Ph: 07 41941081

Lets continue the battle.

________________________________________

FCATA Web Master …

F.C.A.T.A. Update – 20th July 2011 …

FCATA
F.C.A.T.A. Update – 20th July 2011
FCATA LogoHello to all FCATA interest participants. It has been some time since I updated this page and I hope that after reading this update – you will understand why.The last update [5th May 2011] spoke of some optimism over the progress of the FCATA – this update bears some news that has wetted down that optimism. In developments over the last week – the FCRC  CEO – Lisa Desmond – has joined the Councillor throng and put everything the FCATA stands for in the too hard basket.

After the 5th May update a submission was formulated in line with the CEO’s request and sent on the 19th May – Ms Desmond acknowledged receipt of this message and the Submission on the 23rd May.

This submission can be read in full using this PDF link.

As part of that submission and the good-will being felt from the CEO’s conversation – it was advised to the CEO that she could run with the submission for two months or so without interference. The intent was to give her a free reign with the content to see what she could achieve. That period has elapsed and I followed up with her on the 13th July with a lengthy conversation. I had been leaving messages from mid-June which all went un-returned.

The CEO I spoke to in the 13th July was not the same enthusiastic supporter of the FCATA program she was two months earlier. In fact – throughout the conversation that lasted the best part of 90min – she gave every indication that she had done absolutely nothing with the submission sent 2 months earlier. She stated that she had read the submission on a plane trip somewhere – she was in Canberra mid June and was then on leave after that until early July. Her return to work date was the 4th July – and I gave her a few days or so to return my messages – she did not contact me.

I phoned her office again after I read the Independent story published on the 7th July ’11. They also went un-returned. I again followed up with another call on the 13th July and Ms Desmond took my call – as stated we spoke at length about what progress had been made subsequent to her receipt of the 19th May submission and it became clear that she had nothing to offer. Not a single thing had been advanced. I broached the matter of the “Independent” story – and how the Mayor appeared to be out there claiming credit for everything he had opposed with regard to what the FCATA was trying to achieve.

The story in the ‘Independent’ newspaper was published on the 7th July 2011 under the heading – “Swimmers warm up with new pool heaters” – that story appears as an image file below:

Independent Story 7th July 2011

This story inflamed an already hot issue – The FCRC Mayor is a putz to try and take credit for any advancement on pool admission concessions that he reneged on in Sept 2010 – and continued to do so from that point onwards –

It was not until Ms Desmond became the CEO officially that se took a motion to council to have the ‘season ticket’ discount’s applied for pensioners. But even in that gesture – there was controversy – the 27% for a 6 month ticket and 30% for a 12 month ticket did not match the 50% daily concession already offered for rehabilitation access. That is why when I spoke with Ms Desmond on the 5th May that I chased her for a commitment for a better deal for FCATA members and she agreed as posted in the FCATA 5th May update.

In the aftermath of receiving the following message from Ms Desmond yesterday – some six days after we spoke on the 13th –

—–Original Message—–
From: Lisa Desmond [mailto:Lisa.Desmond@frasercoast.qld.gov.au]
Sent: Tuesday, 19 July 2011 7:14 PM
To: fcata@bigpond.com
Cc: Debra Moore
Subject: Progress

Dear Ian,

Following our telephone discussion last I have requested Deb to investigate and respond to me on the different concessions applied for single entry compared to season pass. Further I have requested Deb to complete a report detailing what Council is currently progressing or seeking funding for that will enhance the use and accessibility of the Pool. I mentioned a few projects which we recently received funding for in our discussions.

Further Council is happy to promote the new season pass concessions introduced (as a result of your representation to Council) widely to the Community so at they are aware of these concessions and encourage use of the facility for recreation and rehabilitation purposes. I would also suggest that you approach Wide Bay Transit for information on public transport schedules that service the pool.

Once I have received the information and report from Deb, I will contact you with the outcome.

Kind Regards

Lisa

Lisa Desmond
Chief Executive Officer
Fraser Coast Regional Council

I responded to Ms Desmond’s message and that response is also posted below:

—–Original Message—–
From: Ian Bleys [mailto:fcata@bigpond.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 19 July 2011 9:57 PM
To: ‘Lisa Desmond’
Subject: RE: Progress

Hello Ms Desmond,

Thank you for your message …

I recall our lengthy conversation on 13th July and I made detailed notes as I’m sure you did as well.

Given the content of the information you provided in you message – a number of things come to mind –

  1. It is 12 months since I first took this matter to Council in a serious way – before that is was a few enquiries that ended up in the sending of a DVD presentation to Ms Moore in early 2009 – who after some weeks tossed the DVD – after some weeks I tried to follow up on what happened to my presentation and she told me I should take the matter up with Cr Muckan. (I have documented this in greater detail to Council previously)
  2. 12 months ago I became more serious in my endeavour and had several liaisons with Cr MucKan to pursue it further – this eventually led to a motion being put to Council to investigate the pool season ticket discounts for disability and pensioner patrons.
  3. The Council produced a report in response to a Council directive at their July 2010 meeting – that report was tabled at the Aug ’10 Council meeting.
  4. This Council produced report was a ‘dog’ report – in so much that it did not include any relative data to pensioner discounts that reflected other Council practices – it was also erroneous because no contact was made with any of the Council Pools to verify the data. The report thus presented was a misrepresentation of the data and whether it was done so deliberately is yet to be confirmed.
  5. This led me to conduct my own research and produce a separate report showing the glaring mistakes contained within the Council’s report – (report attached as PDF file)
  6. Ms Moore was involved in this dispute all the way up until Dec 2010 – as was Mr Smith and Mr Gaze – and a meeting with the Mayor was held in late Sept ’10 at which the Mayor gave an undertaking –
  7. That undertaking was dishonoured and the FCATA matter insured and you are probably up to date with most of what has happened since …

Your response today indicated that you are now awaiting new reports from Ms Moore before you can send me an update on what has happen in the 2 odd months you have had the FCATA submission.

I don’t have any faith in Ms Moore or Mr Smith and I have made this clear to you previously. In our 5th May conversation I told you of this and you agreed that I should deal with you directly – I can give you any number of examples or reasons for my mistrust of both Ms Moore and Mr Smith and the Mayor should you care or be interested …

In our 13th July conversation you offered to send me a letter outlining what FCRC has done to advance the FCATA cause – why is it now that you need to have Ms Moore compile a report to provide that information?

I told you that I needed to advise the 700 subscribed FCATA members and update them with progress that has been made. I indicated I needed this sooner rather than later – and yet you’ve taken a week to respond to our conversation and now I have to wait further for Ms Moore to do a report.

Ms Moors has had no interest in this program or the issues I raised with her for over two years. Why would I now have any faith in her being able to produce a report that advances the FCATA cause.

And in the interim – what have you and FCRC done with the FCATA submission in the last 2 months?

I am disappointed with the content in your response –

As previously mentioned I made detailed notes of our last conversation to which your message refers to and some of these notes are presented below –

  • – 13th Jly – spoke at length with Lisa Desmond – maybe 90 min … outcome FAIR
  • – Going to further review Disability rehab discount on season tickets i.e. daily 50% upgraded to offer season ticket discounts of 50% as well …
  • – Going to contact GATA and Gladstone COUNCIL to find out about daily FREE access …
  • – Going to go public with some media and promotional stuff on FCATA and its efforts to date via Council Newsletter …
  • – Does not want to offer different deal with FCATA and public – does not recall her undertaking to FCATA members … refer 5th May blog – check notes –
  • – Said she read submission but obviously had retained little knowledge of the detail contained within document – e.g. GATA program explained but she had little knowledge of program and many other issues raised during the conversation …
  • – Amenities upgrades for Tier 1 and 2’s to be taken to Council Oct 11 for approval – no guarantees
  • – Told her about Paul Neville’s offer to assist with stand alone pool project – the $6-$10 million cost – asked her to speak to Mr Neville about his offer to help with the project …
  • – She is going to send a letter updating what Council is offering and going to do about upgrades …
  • – She indicated sending me a letter outlining what Council has already conceded to do so I could post it on-line …

Further to your response – you make no reference as to whether you contacted Gladstone Council to find out about GATA and how they offer the ‘free’ access for pension card holders between 8-9 Mon – Fri – have you done this?

To further update you on my understandings of your undertaking re – ‘the better deal for FCATA members’ – during and from our conversation on 5th May – I blogged the details of that conversation the same day and they are pasted hereto for your reference:

They can also be read on-line and that post includes a copy of the Council minute – use link here – www.fcata.wordpress.com
____________________________________________
[COPIED FROM BLOG POST]

“… The good News delivered this week was very welcome. In case you had not heard – and I heard it from a Media call asking for a comment on the news – but on the 27th Apr the FCRC made a decision to grant Season Ticket discounts at the Hervey Bay Pool. The decision also called for negotiations to be entered into with the Maryborough Swimming Club (MSC) for similar discounts – MSC manage the Maryborough Pool. The full FCRC Minute of the decision is posted below:

I tried to contact the new CEO – Ms Desmond – her CEO appointment was confirmed last week – and with my previous calls since March having gone un-returned – I was not holding out much hope of an early return call. To my surprise MS Desmond called an hour or so later and I gotta tell you – the tone and conviction in the conversation during that call gave me renewed hope that there are public servants out there who understand civic duty. It was a delight to hear positive belief and to feel there was support for what this program is trying to achieve.

The conversation lasted 20 min or so – and Ms Desmond gave an undertaking that the discount offered via the Council minute above – will be bettered when the Council considers a new proposal from the FCATA for Tier 2′s and 3′s to access the pool between 7:30-9:00am Mon-Fri.

The understanding was that this would be for Members of the FCATA and who were independent and did not need transport or supervision whilst attending the pool.

This was a wondrous concession and made light of what the Mayor and his team had been posturing over for the last 9 months. It gave me the feeling that a new breath of fresh air just swept through the Council chambers. I would go so far as to say – that Ms Desmond has her own agenda and is prepared to lead – hopefully – Bevis Butthead and his group get out of her way.

Ms Desmond has asked for a new proposal outlining the FCATA agenda for the Tier 2s and Tier 3s and their access to the pool and beyond. That proposal will be sent within the next few days and I would expect discussions within a few weeks. Further posts on the proposal and discussions will be made here…”

[End of Post]
____________________________________

I go back to this 5th July post because when this blog was first posted – I sent you and all Councillors, Ms Moore and Mr Smith a direct link to this blog update – if you had a problem with its content then – you or nobody else from Council made any attempt to correct the information –

The data in this blog post is as how I recall our conversation. I have not misquoted you – and yet the undertaken given is something that has been lost in the ensuring months. That is your error – not mine –

As you can see from the tone of the 5th July post – you offered hope when all I have received in the 2 years of dealing with the Mayor, Mr Smith, Mr Muckan, Ms Hovard, and Ms Moore was a – ‘shutout’ – a ‘go away’ – a ‘we don’t help individual’s we only deal with incorporated associations’ – and now as reported in the media – [per The Independent 7th July pg-12] – the Mayor is out there taking credit for pool improvements and pensioner discounts for season tickets that would never have been on his agenda had it not been for the efforts of FCATA …

I take extreme objection to this and will be making representations to the Independent to have the context of the story corrected.

The Mayor opposed the discounts at every stage and you of all people knew this at the time … it was your motion that had the season tickets discounted back in April ’11 as your first act of business when you officially became the CEO … you had to have known about the Mayor’s continued objection to this matter.

No … Ms Desmond – you have not followed through on your undertakings given on the 5th May – you have not honoured your commitments – and given the length and breath of our conversation we had on the 13th July – the response you provided today falls far short of an adequate or reasonable response.

For your benefit I again – (the 4th time I have sent this document to Council) – have attached the report response to the Aug ’10 FCRC Report that was submitted to Council and on which every Council member voted in favour of – there was no discussion recorded on how the report was compiled and when I asked the question and enquired to who compiled the report and how it was compiled after I was told of the Council’s decision – I was dealt with sharply and with contempt by Mr Gaze. It was very evident at that point that nobody was taking any notice of what I was trying to achieve. From this point on – Council have done everything to obstruct this program up until I had the conversation with you on the 5th May 2011 – or so I thought.

When I established this Council report was grossly incorrect in its representation of the data – and for what it did not include – I did research and compiled my own report and sent it to All Councillors and Mr Gaze.

The attached report – [linked here] – proves beyond any doubt – and as we discussed briefly in our Feb ’10 meeting – to which you also cut me short because of your time constraints at that meeting – and again last week – FCRC Council were negligent in their duty of care and responsibility in compiling that report – they did not do their job – and as a result they reported erroneous data to which Council made a decision and made this issue all that more difficult to present to Council.

This Council error has never been corrected – and perhaps I should have focused then in having the actions of Council at the time bought to the attention of the State Minister for Local Government to have the matter exposed – and Council made accountable for their own failings in not having done any due diligence on the report before it was presented to Council.

At the time I became focused on the bigger picture (FCATA) – having discovered the GATA program as part of my own research – but your want go back to the same people who were responsible for producing the first erroneous report astounds me –

I raised with you your undertaking re – ‘for a better deal for FCATA members’ in our 5th May conversation in our recent conversation – you were unsure about the undertaking – I am not – you gave a clear indication that you would offer a better deal for FCATA members to access the pool than what was announced in your season tickets discount dealt and I reported it at the time.

I believe that you did not fully understand the background to this issue at our Feb ’11 meeting, and again when we spoke at length a week ago – and I believe you still don’t have a full understanding of the background and what this issue is all about – please do not underestimate my resolve – I would be happy to once again go over the history first hand at a sit down meeting – but then I would also ask myself why did I write all those detailed and expanded commentary messages – and send them to you and everybody else at Council if they were not really read or understood.

I gave you an undertaking that I would leave this with you for 2 months in our 5th May conversation and see where you went with it – well – if your letter below is representative of where you have taken this matter in that agreed time-frame – it is a very sad failure –

You going back to Council staff to once again do a report is where this matter was 12 months ago when Mr Muckan went that path that ended up with Council requesting a report – this matter has surely progressed from their in my mind – but sadly – You and Council are looking at another diversion rather that someone at Council stepping up and taking responsibility for a long term discriminate Pool admission policy that disadvantages pensioners and the disabled.

I am now intending to take this further using media and whatever other avenues that are available to advance this cause and highlight your Council’s extreme inability to deal with this matter.

If the content of this message pushes you to an ‘anger’ response – then I’m content with that and advise that perhaps you now know how it feels to be treated with utter contempt – and represents a reflection of how I feel you and your Council has treated my issue.

I ask you – what have you done personally since your received the 19th May ’11 submission?

How have you progressed with the requests made with regard to the FCATA submission in the 2 months you have had the submission … discarding the last week …

I have not sent this message to ‘All Councillors’ or other specific targets as yet – but will be doing so unless I get a more urgent response that fully addresses the submissions information and your Council begins to take this issue with the seriousness that identifies with the 20,000+ disability and aged pensioners living in the Fraser Coast region.

Regards …
———————————————————————————————–
Fraser Coast Aqua-Therapy Association – Proposed Contact Information:

I have made this post to update all FCATA interest members – I feel that this Council is as inept as ever and has no real interest in addressing the needs of the 20,000+ disabled and aged pensioners in any self-help way. The Aqua Therapy program cannot proceed without Council becoming involved and I have spent more that 30 months trying to convince them so.

There is a Council election in the next 9 months or so. I urge you all to take this FCATA program to all your local Councillors – and to facilitate that – their collective E-Mail is: All Councillors

Please send messages to your Councillors protesting their handling of the FCATA submission and its attempts to get the FCATA program up and running.

There are a number of Councillors who will face a difficult time getting re-elected – there are 20,000+ pensioners living in the Fraser Coast region – 20% of the population – they have a voice and the Council need to be made aware of just how loud that voice can be.

Ms Desmond may be swamped with other issues – but then that is why she receives a paycheck in excess of $250k p/a – that is supposed to reflect her ability to deal with issues like this – her dealing in this matter has sadly failed given her response over the last 2 months.

Who appointed her – are they up for the Job?

Are any of the Council members worthy to hold their position?

I’m yet to find one in all my dealings with any of the Councillors I’ve met in relation to this matter – they include – Muckan, Hovard, Hawes, Brooks, and Mayor Kruger. It is just deemed as not a relevant issue on their agenda.

So once again – I urge you to contact your Councillor and make the complaint … the link to the each Councillor’s e-mail address is here

________________________________________

FCATA Web Master …

F.C.A.T.A. – Update 5th May 2011

Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Association

Headline: “F.C.A.T.A. Update:”

Title: “Council agrees to Pensioner Discounts…”

Post Date: 5th May 2011 …

Article by: FCATA-Web-Master

___________________________

The good News delivered this week was very welcome. In case you had not heard – and I heard it from a Media call asking for a comment on the news – but on the 27th Apr the FCRC made a decision to grant Season Ticket discounts at the Hervey Bay Pool. The decision also called for negotiations to be entered into with the Maryborough Swimming Club (MSC) for similar discounts – MSC manage the Maryborough Pool. The full FCRC Minute of the decision is posted below:

ITEM NO: ORD 11.13 FRASER COAST REGIONAL COUNCIL ORDINARY MEETING NO. 7 WEDNESDAY 27 APRIL, 2011SUBJECT: FEES AT THE HERVEY BAY AQUATICCENTRE DIRECTORATE: COMMUNITY & DEVELOPMENT

RESPONSIBLE OFFICER: ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, Lisa Desmond

AUTHOR: ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, Lisa Desmond

DOC NO: #2021222 LINK TO CORPORATE / OPERATIONAL PLAN:

1. PURPOSE

The purpose of this report is Council approval for the introduction of a Pensioner Concession Season Pass at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre.

2. BACKGROUND & PREVIOUS COUNCIL CONSIDERATION

Council considered a report on the provision of pensioner concessions in August 2010 following an enquiry regarding Council’s position on concessions for pensioners, especially season tickets for disability pensioners.

The current fees and charges provide for a $1.85 (Adult Entry Fee $3.70) for a Holder of a Disability Pension Card or Health Care Card which required a letter from a Medical Doctor certifying that aquatic activity is a requirement of rehabilitation.

In addition Season Passes are offered Half Yearly (Adult) – $164; All Year (Adult) – $293.00

A comparison with other nearby Councils Fees and Charges identified that there was no consistency in the setting of fees and charges and those that apply a discount also only on single admissions. The opening period affects the cost of a season ticket and those that do provide a season ticket do not provide a discounted ticket.

3. PROPOSAL

That Council introduces a Pension Concession Seasonal Pass for Seniors &

Commonwealth Pension Card (blue) and Disability Pension Card holders at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Facility as follows:

27 APRIL 2011

Season Passes

1. Half Yearly (Pension) – $115 (Summer 1 Oct – 31 Mar/Winter 1 Apr – 30 September)

2. All Year (Adult) – $211 (1 October onwards)

That Council has discussions with the Maryborough Swimming Club about proposed fees for 2011/12 to include a Pension Concession Seasonal Pass.

4. FINANCIAL & RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS

The introduction of the season pass is expected to have minimal impact on revenue.

5. CONSULTATIONExecutive Manager – Community & Culture Councillors

6. CONCLUSION

That Council introduces a Pension Concession Seasonal Pass at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Facility and undertakes discussions with the Maryborough Swimming Club about proposed fees for the 2011/12 year to include a Pension Concession Seasonal Pass at the Maryborough Aquatic Facility.

7. OFFICER’S RECOMMENDATION

That Council:

1. Introduce a Pension Concession Seasonal Pass for Seniors & Commonwealth Pension Card (blue) and Disability Pension Card holders at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Facility as follows: Half Yearly (Pension) – $115 (Summer 1 Oct – 31 Mar/Winter 1 Apr – 30 September) All Year (Adult) – $211 (1 October onwards)

2. Discusses with the Maryborough Swimming Club about proposed fees for the 2011/12 year to include a Pension Concession Seasonal Pass at the Maryborough Aquatic Facility.

ATTACHMENTS: NIL

I tried to contact the new CEO – Ms Desmond – her CEO appointment was confirmed last week – and with my previous calls since March having gone un-returned – I was not holding out much hope of an early return call.  To my surprise MS Desmond called an hour or so later and I gotta tell you – the tone and conviction in the conversation during that call gave me renewed hope that there are public servants out there who understand civic duty. It was a delight to hear positive belief and to feel there was support for what this program is trying to achieve.

The conversation lasted 20 min or so – and Ms Desmond gave an undertaking that the discount offered via the Council minute above – will be bettered when the Council considers a new proposal from the FCATA for Tier 2’s and 3’s to access the pool between 7:30-9:00am Mon-Fri.

The understanding was that this would be for Members of the FCATA and who were independent and did not need transport or supervision whilst attending the pool.

This was a wonderous concession and made light of what the Mayor and his team had been posturing over for the last 9 months. It gave me the feeling that a new breath of fresh air just swept through the Council chambers. I would go so far as to say – that Ms Desmond has her own agenda and is prepared to lead – hopefully – Bevis Butthead and his group get out of her way.

Ms Desmond has asked for a new proposal outlining the FCATA agenda for the Tier 2s and Tier 3s and their access to the pool and beyond. That proposal will be sent within the next few days and I would expect discussions within a few weeks. Further posts on the proposal and discussions will be made here.

Contact Information – Federal, State & Local Council Representatives …

Phone Numbers E-Mail Addresses for Federal and State Members:

_____________________________________________________________________________

Phone Numbers E-Mail Addresses for Local Councillors:

18th Apr Update:

Hi All,

April Newsletter:

  1. Firstly – Can I ask all Carer Groups who have responded to this program to please print the attached Newsletter in Word format and forward the Newsletter to their charges with a copy of the PETITION form.

Link to Newsletter and Petition Form:

It has been an interesting few weeks – we formed a sort of  ‘Steering Committee’ earlier this month – there were two meetings and the small group (5) dissolved due to personal obligations and agenda conflicts – it was just too early to go the committee route given the workload, still unstructured agenda – and the still very broad concept of the program.

I have to wear the responsibility for this – the programs concept that was a part of the build up to gather the community interest  had outside influences.  Initially I listened to views about backing off Council and the need to form a Committee to agree to Council’s wishes.  Council did a good job in mis-direction and confusing the agenda – from the steering committee perspective others had their own agenda’s and nobody had any real vision or understanding about what this program was really trying to achieve.

The workload was daunting and to want to break down the program to smaller programs may well be a way to start – but from my perspective and vision – and how this program has been promoted to the community – I was not ready to roll over and be dictated to by a mis-direction campaign by a bunch of what seems like weak Councillors – who would rather choose to stay ignorant as opposed to at least wanting to know about the program and what they can do to assist.

The Committee will be important but it is still a ways off – it needs Local Business and community involvement – the immediate issue is to show Council they need to review their negative attitude – and be exposed for their reluctance to embrace this demographic within their community.

This current merged Council has division and what some would call ‘petty’ and self-serving agenda’s – not just on this matter but on several basic needs of the community.  I have not spoken to any individual in the forming of this program who has a good word about any of the Councillors or the Council as a group.  Given their response to this single issue – this is not surprising.   There is one Councillor I have been speaking with on a regular basis – and she was on this steering committee as an advisor – I know she supports the program –

I have head from several people who lodged Interest Notifications who said they spoke to Councillors they knew and they all indicated they support the program – I have the names of five – six Councillors who have given these comments to people they have spoken to.  My question is why have they not responded to my letters of invitation for them to become more familiar with the program?  There can only be one answer to that – as to give the appearance of a united Council – they have been told not to have contact – and that then leads us back to the Mayor – what a petty and small man he must be and what a weak bunch of Councillors to follow in such shallow footsteps.

In an answer to this position – I believe them to be ‘gun-shy’ and frozen in a searchlight glare – they are too scared to make a decision because they are scared it will be a wrong decision – or a too little too late committment – a Council cannot be allowed to behave like that –

Leadership is what is needed and sadly – it is lacking here and all over this Country and elsewhere around the globe.  Leaders want the title – but none of the responsibility that comes with the job description – for too long they rely on self-promoting bureaucrats doing all the hard work of running the Council – Government who all have their own agenda’s working to boost their own pay packets.

An example of this is that the most pressured job in the world POTUS – (President of the United States) – earns US$400k – the Prime Minister of Australia earns $350K – and the CEO of Fraser Coast Council is paid $260K plus Super and other perks – there is no comparison in responsibilities – the USA has a US$14 trillion year GDP – the Australian economy a A$500 billion GDP – and the FCRC has a $200 million LGA budget – how can they demand such overpaid salaries at the Local Government level for the responsibilities they endure?

I am told the Mayor ‘boozes’ away his Saturday afternoons at a well known pub on the Hervey Bay Esplanade – and is picked up late afternoon by his limo driver when he is ready to go home – is that how he views his roll as the Mayor and to the extent of his community awareness involvement?

For the Council to express their want to deal with an Association before they address what should be already available is the Mayor’s way of turning a blind eye. If he had any moral compass to his community and the needs of this demographic group – he would have acted some years ago.  This is an Administration hangover from previous Administrations and even whilst the previous Mayor – Ted Sorensen and now State Member for Hervey Bay – had the same ‘no discount’ policy toward pool entrance fees for the disabled and elderly – his efforts to date in challenging the current Council on this matter suggest he is also not convinced.

In a personally meeting with him earlier this year – he did offer support and encouragement – yet when I later asked if his office could do some photo copying of Interest Notification forms – they refused because we were not an ‘Association’.  The same offer was put to Mr Foley – the State Member for Maryborough – in an e-mail and no reply was received either.

We are underdogs in this battle – and the real question is why?

Are they that ashamed of the little noise we make that might rankle their moral compass?  – or is it that they believe we should stay silent and not be heard – really it is a dark day when those who are in a position to help look away and not want to acknowledge and give help when it is asked for.

It as been over a month now since anybody connected with Council have returned a call or answered an e-mail.  I think that deplorable from a LGA when they set the pool price policy.

Last Friday I sent another E-mail to All-Councillors asking that they take the time to find out about the program – rather then let them be led by a weak man in the Mayor – a man who gives undertakings and then wimps out when he seems to have stepped over this authority – a man who listens to Council employees rather than trust his own judgement.

That E-Mail is posted below –

_______________________________

Dear Councillor,

My name is Ian Bleys and I am the proposer of the new Aqua Therapy program for the Fraser Coast region – I write to you requesting an opportunity to present to you and your fellow Councillors the full understanding of the proposed aqua-therapy program.

You will recall your own part in this two year campaign to have the FCRC address the ‘pensioner’ access to the FCRC pools and the fact there is no discount afforded.  You all voted in agreement with a Council motion last July as follows:

_______________________________

Minutes of the FCRC Ordinary Meeting No. 12 held on Wednesday 28 July 2010 Page 11

#1892087

ORD 14 GENERAL BUSINESS

ORD 14.6 Aquatic Centre – Disability Pension Holder Concession

Councillor MucKan said that he had received approaches from members of the community enquiring as to why Council did not have a discounted seasonal ticket to the Aquatic Centre for disability pension holders, and he requested a report be presented to Council regarding this matter and possible implications.

The meeting was advised that at the present time only people undertaking a rehabilitation program received a discount.

RESOLUTION ( MucKan / Harris )

That a report be brought to Council outlining the budget implications of implementing a concession seasonal pass at the Aquatic Centre for people with a disability pension.

Carried Unanimously Ord 12/241/07/10  

____________________________________________

Yet – when it came to review the report produced by Council employees – there was no ‘budget impact’ implications included in the report.  Yet All Councillors voted to accept the report and its recommendations. (see below) – (I sent you a copy of the Council produced report and my own research in Sept last year)

_____________________________________________

Minutes of Community & Development Committee Meeting No 4 held on Wednesday, 25 August, 2010 Page 4

#1942868

Councillors in attendance:

Councillor Hovard, Councillor Arthur, Councillor McNeven, Councillor Brooks, Councillor MucKan, Councillor Dalgleish, Councillor Nioa, Councillor Kruger, Councillor Hawes, Councillor O’Connell, Councillor Harris

C&D 6 OFFICERS’ REPORTS – COMMUNITY & CULTURE C&D 6.3 Fees at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre RECOMMENDATION ( Brooks / Nioa )

That the Council recommend that the enquirer be advised that the current Fees and Charges offer a substantially discounted fee for regular users.

Carried Unanimously C&D 4/64/08/10

_______________________________________

You were made aware that the information in the Council produced report was both erroneous – and mis-represented the facts about ‘pensioner’ discounts at Council pools in other LGA’s.

The Mayor contacted me after receiving this researched and conflicting report sent to ‘All-Councillors’ – his request was for a meeting to discuss pensioner’s discounts.  This meeting was held late September – it was also attended by Peter Smith and Andy Gaze – both Council employees.

During the meeting Mr Smith proposed that any ‘pensioner’ discounts be addressed in the next years budget – to which the Mayor responded with a slam of his hand on the desk – ‘no, we’ll do something now’.  I took him at his word and again later when he shook my hand as I exited he re-affirmed his commitment to ‘do something now’.  The ‘now’ in my understanding was not waiting for next year’s budget which is what he ended up doing.

Two weeks later Peter Smith responded in a letter – in part suggested I could pay the annual subscriptions on a monthly basis – see text below …

________________________________________

REFERENCE: PENSIONER DISCOUNT – HERVEY BAY AQUATIC CENTRE

I refer to your recent emails and to discussions held on 27 September 2010 between yourself, the Mayor, Cllr Mick Kruger, Councils Director Community & Development, Peter Smith and Executive Manager Environmental Health & Regulation, Andy Gaze in relation to the above matter.

Council acknowledges your comments in relation to the fee structure at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre and will undertake a review of the entry fees for the Centre as part of its annual review of fees and charges.

Given that this review will take some time to complete, and in recognition of your concerns in being able to pay the yearly pass amount of $293 in one amount, Council is willing to enter into a monthly payment plan based on a pro rata basis for the year.

Should you take up this offer from say November 2010, this would equate to a monthly payment of $24.40 per month.

Should you wish to enter into the progress payment plan, please contact Carole Bye on 4197 4345 to make the necessary arrangements.

_______________________________________

If the ‘gesture’ in this letter was in fact that I personally could pay the annual fees on a month basis – something that has been available to all the general public for some years according to the Pool Manager – the ‘gesture’ was both insultive and demeaning in that my representation to Council was on behalf of all ‘pensioners’ and not of a personal nature.

Since this time – there has only been three Councillors who have had any contact with me on this matter and in relation to the Aqua Therapy Program – they being Cr- Brooks, Hawes and Hovard – Cr Muckan did attend a meeting with Lisa Desmond and other parties on the 21st February to discuss the program …

In the period since January-Current – I have been promoting the Aqua Therapy program – indications of interest up to the 31st Mar indicated 679 persons of varying disabilities and pensioner age indicated their interest in the program via Carer and Respite groups and by individual notifications.

Nobody can argue against this program and its intent – you know that as things stand currently – you stand on the wrong side of the fence in not offering Pensioners a pool entry discount across the pool’s ticketing structures –

You also know that your Council offers ‘pensioner’ discounts in many other Council manager activities – not only is the ‘no discount’ policy for pool access for this group discriminatory – it is just an insult to the large demographic of disability and aged pensioner group living in your community who would like to use the pool and cannot afford to do so.

By example – your operational pool budget for Hervey Bay pool offers a budgeted Council subsidy for 2010 of $258k and for 2011 of $267k –  from this it can be said that the Council subsidises ‘general admission’ entry to the pool to the value of this budget subsidy.  My question to you as a Councillor – what discount does the Pool offer disability and aged pensioners … it is the same as the general public discount.

In Sept ’10 when I had the meeting with the Mayor – what was being asked for was a 50% discount on the general admission season tickets.  At the time that would have cost the Council perhaps $1500 for all the season tickets sold to persons with disabilities.  At the time your Mayor said ‘no’ to this $1500 – do you think he made an error of judgement – do you think the ‘budget impact’ of this amount would still have been voted down at a full Council meeting?  I think not.

The ‘budget impact’ was asked for and you and your fellow Councillors ignored the fact that the report did not even cover your own request.  How could you of all voted on that report when it did not fulfil its obligation?

The matter has now become a bigger issue on account of the research undertaken to refute the Council employee report – and despite numerous attempts to contact your staff in recent weeks and months – Messes Smith, Moore, and the Acting CEO Lisa Desmond – and even the Mayor – refuse to responded to the numerous phone messages and e-mails sent.

This invitation will be the only opportunity you have to give yourself a full appreciation of what the Aqua Therapy program is about and seeks – if you choose not to respond – I can assure you that further action will be taken to bring this Council to account.  My intention is not to intimidate – but purely state to you the obvious course when something so wrong and that which impacts on so many – cannot be altered because of ego – and an unwillingness to face facts and accede to a greater good.

My options are many – Discrimination Act – Disabilities Act – State Minister Local Government – Federal Government Minister – Media – campaign infection at the next election – the issue is that at the moment – you have failed in your charter as Administrators and Councillors to fully address the needs of your community –

You are aware of the high number of disability pensioners living in your community – some 5,500 as at 2009 – you also know that 14,000 aged pensioners live in your region and that more than 30,000 are aged 55+.  You know that the disability and health care for these residents drives 35-40% employment in the region – yet when someone ask’s you for support – your representative in the Mayor says ‘no’ – and your Council staff say ‘no’.

You will not be campaign against this program in upcoming elections – yet who of you will campaign for it?

This invitation has no quick pro-quo – Ms Desmond has confirmed the Hervey Bay Pool has available access times for the program – the Maryborough pool is uncertain in relation to what – if any pool will be available post Sept 2011 due to the planned refurbishment – but all attempts to have the Council yield a cost for the program’s access has been met with – ‘form an association’ – ‘we’ll talk to someone else or a group’.

This is pure deflection and mis-direction on the part of the Mayor’s response – the Mayor is exposed as is the Council on their flawed ‘no discount’ policy for pool access for pensioners –

What the Mayor is presenting as a defence debate to not acting on this matter does not inspire or show leadership or character –

Surely if a policy is deemed a good policy and is something all agree about – and even the Mayor has acknowledged this – it is right and therefore Council should act in the capacity of providing Council assets and resources to see it done – and not have to wait for associations to be formed etc –  these are elderly and disabled persons and who are their advocates that will help bring this about?  In that scenario – if it was going to happen it would have already happened – this FCATA is that advocacy group and Council should accept their roll and play their part –

One of the main reasons an ‘Association’ will be needed at some point in the future and its need to be incorporated – is to provide for public funding applications – and public funding will be required as this program expands.  The funds will be predominately for TIER 1 participants and the training of staff and volunteers to take care of them in the pool environment and transport cost.

Before this Tier 1 program can progress down that path – Council need to upgrade the heated pool facilities and the amenities – something they are not even aware of or bothered to asked about.

If in the interim the Council were to allow ‘free’ access – as Gladstone Council does – to disability and aged pensioners between 7:30 and 9:00am Monday to Friday for those who are capable of doing their own exercise and therapy sessions – what cost would that be to the Council?

It would be a minute fraction of the $260k+ it already subsides the general public pricing.  In fact – without the free access – the council would not even get any more of these persons to the pool –

That is the whole point!

Council needs to create the incentive for these persons to self-help via exercise in the only environment that suits their disability and aged issues … pool/aqua therapy and exercise.

By not addressing this issue for the value it will bring to your community – and by bringing it down to a Council budget issue – is not the way you should be looking at this matter –

Nothing from nothing gets you nothing – i.e. there is ‘no’ budget impact for those who are not using the pool if they decide to use it if the admission was free – the pool is not being used and it is people who would not be going unless it was free.  Therefore the only real cost to the pool revenue stream would be the give-up on the persons in this disability and aged pensioner group who are currently using the pool and paying the general public price –

So I ask you to please seek to find out more about this program from the person who has championed its cause for two years now –

I await your response.

Regards … Ian Bleys.

_____________________________________

As I write this post – only one Councillor has responded to this message – and not the one who has always responded in the past.

I think that just about sums up the level of interest all the other Councillors have for this matter – its a pathetic response.

Letters to the State and Federal Ministers for Local Government – Communities – Disabilities – and Discrimination are being drafted – also letters to Mr Neville and  Mr Truss – Federal Members for the local area – and to Messes Foley and Sorensen – State Members for the region on this matter – let us just see what shaming this LGA  and exposing the inaction of the so called community Leaders will do in other arena’s – these letters will also be sent to National Media outlets – both print and vision – current affairs and talk back radio – it is intended to bring the inaction into clear focus as to why this demographic grouping is so marginalised and disadvantaged.

The members of this grouping have life experience – they have a want to self-help and to help others in the same position – just the social opportunity this will present will create great benefit to those participating  and that is just as important as the exercise program.  All it needs is for able persons who control the funding and hold the prejudicial attitudes to turn over and help this group and realise what this group can do to help themselves.

A program like this has to potential to address so many issues facing our aging population and relieve future pressures on an already floundering health system.

Where to Now:

As a group all we have is the strength in numbers that represents.  The Carer groups servicing this community are stretched and they have rules about becoming vocal advocates dare they risk their existing funding grants – the only thing we can do as a group is to let  our voices be heard.

To that aim I have attached a ‘PETITION’ form that can be downloaded as a Word file and printed out below –

Only a matter of a few weeks ago – 1500 odd signatures was enough local voice to stop a ring-road along the Pt Vernon foreshore – that venture was to cost ‘millions’ – how many signatures do you think it would take to convince Council to review their current ‘no discount’ policy pool admission for elderly and disabled – into a free access for disability and elderly to the pool during a limited time frame that the Council have already acknowledged as being idle and not used?

s a demographic group we number more that 20,000 in this region – that is a voice worth exploiting and hearing – let it be heard.

So I ask you to take the time to download the Word file here – DOWNLOAD PETITION – please print the file and have as many of your friends and fellow ‘want-to-be pool’ uses sign and return same to the address included on the bottom of the Petition form.

This battle is escalating – and as a demographic group we number more that 20,000 in this community – that is a voice worth hearing and exploiting – let it be heard – and to think that this is now where this matter sits because the Mayor – nor the Council staff advising him would not roll over on an asked for and estimated annual $1,500 subsidy for disability,  and aged pensioners back in Aug-Sept 2010.

Personal Observation:

It has been said to me that the Council do not want to deal with me – I felt some reluctance in pushing my agenda in response to this – some self conscious that I may have been damaging whatever chance there was to advance this program might have been held up because of my persistence in challenging Council.  This wet-nose view has now gone.  This Council needs to be thrown out if this is what they think is local community awareness and governance – and the staff needed to be given direction as opposed to running their own agenda’s – Councillors set policy – council staff implement – that is the way it should work and this Council and council Administrators act like chooks with their heads chopped off .

Whenever you let people try to do the right think by backing off – you get much less than you asked for the first time – this Council played politics on this matter when no politics needed to be played

It is time to force this issue and I call on all who support this program to step up and be heard –

To the left you will find a link to e-mail addresses and phone numbers for all FCRC Councillors and the State and Federal Members for the area – please contact them to voice your views on this Council’s inaction.  

Let us see if the democracy in Australia works and that these Members can be responsive to genuine constituent input.

Update – 29th Apr 2011

Hi all –

I have held back this post until after the Easter break – all to give the FCRC Councillors no excuse for not responding to a recent invitation to learn about the FCATA – as opposed to the what they hear from third parties.

Unfortunately – it bought only a single Councillor response and I have to say – this Council remains in ignorance and just do not want to hear or learn from the public about what is needed in their community.

The link below is to the April FCATA News Letter and it is in WORD format.

April Newsletter with Petition 20110420

Please read the Newsletter and if you can help with the attached Petition – any assistance would be greatly appreciated.  All the news to date is included in the Newsletter –