Posts Tagged ‘Chris Foley’

F.C.A.T.A. Update – 23rd Sept 2011

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 7.4 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 7.3 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 []
Sent: Monday, 29 August 2011 1:26 PM
To: Lisa DESMOND (
Cc:; 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 []
Sent: Tuesday, 20 September 2011 7:27 PM
To: Lisa DESMOND (
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: – 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 …


Weekly Update 12th Feb 2011 …

It was another very productive week … exhausting really and I am just starting to realise just what it is that I have taken on here … this is quite a large post and I apologise for that – but there is a lot to be said – please be patient and read the whole post at your leisure – I am sure you will get a lot from it …

  • First off the rank was a meeting with a very prominent local businessman who gave some great advice … I went looking for funds to pay for local ads in The Independent, The Observer and Herald newspapers. There was no luck on the fund raising but The Chronicle, Observer and Herald ran a short story about the Aqua-Therapy program on Friday.It was unexpected and I have to apologise … I only learned myself on Wednesday about the ‘politically correct language’ requirements when talking or describing persons with disabilities.

    I suffer disabilities myself and even I did not know that the word ‘hand—pped’ is a big no-no. I apologise for its use in the story that ran on Friday – the papers have also been made aware of the required language protocols. The papers indicated that they are going to run the article next week as well.

  • This next development is a biggie … one of the Carer groups I met with during the week gave me details about a ‘learn-to-swim’ program for persons with disabilities they had helped organise – this Carer group had provided the funding – they had a professionally qualified person with staff to manage the program – they had the participants pre-selected – and they were all ready to start the program – all they needed was for the Fraser Coast Regional Council (FCRC) to agree and approve the program’s ‘access’ to the indoor heated pool at the Hervey Bay Aquatic center.The FCRC denied the Carer group’s application for ‘pool access’ and the whole program fell away immediately. The person who spent the time and effort to organised the program was so distraught at the Council’s denial – they have not been contactable since – thoughts are that they left the district in disgust at the decision.

    Further advice related that the reason the access was denied was because ‘pool staff’ did not want the program interfering with their existing bookings. If this is correct – the ‘pool staff’ need to be educated on so many levels – and shame on Council for letting ‘pool staff’ dictate to them on a very serious policy decision concerning a genuine program that would help all those participants willing to partake in the proposed ‘learn-to-swim’ program.

    Politically – the ‘pool staff’ and Council are at odds with their own communities needs and demographics.

    This information sent shivers through this proposed ‘aqua therapy’ program development as well. As a result I wrote to Council seeking an urgent meeting over ‘pool access’ given this decision and this Council’s demonstrated reluctance to address any issue relating to this instance and other ongoing ‘disability and concession’ card holders access to the pool.

    To the Councils credit – Cr Hovard responded immediately and organised a meeting to discuss the Aqua-Therapy programs pool access requirements – that meeting is scheduled for the 21st Feb. Nominated attendees at that meeting are the acting CEO Lisa Desmond, Debra Moore, the Executive Manager Community & Culture, Cr Hovard, Cr Muckan, Cr Hawes and any other Councillor who wants to make the time to be there … just how many other Councillors show for this meeting will be a litmus test on just how seriously Council takes this matter.

    This meeting will determine so much about where and how this proposed ‘aqua-therapy’ program will go forward. Without generous pool access agreed to by Council – the program will fail. Unless Council review their recent ‘learn-to-swim’ decision with some understanding of how ‘incorrect’ that decision was – there is a monster ‘brawl’ about to happen over this proposed new program.

    When I wrote to Council requesting this meeting I gave them some data about the Fraser Coast region – the Council would be aware of these same statistics – yet for all of the past two years I have been trying to get Council to budge on the ‘season ticket’ costs for ‘concession card holders’ – the Council have remained steadfastly ‘ignorant’ on matters relating to how their pool admission pricing is ‘discriminate’. Those statistics appear below:

    Data Information:……………………………………Fraser Coast Region………Gladstone Region

    Regional Area Population:…………………………..99,514 (2009)……………….59,644 (2009)
    Persons 55+ living in area:………………………….28,021 (2010) (28.16%)…….9,226 (2010) (15.47%)
    Disability Pensioners living in area:………………….5,388 (2009) ( 5.41%)…….1,121 (2009) ( 1.81%)
    Aged Pensioners receiving pension:……………….13,148 (2009) (13.21%)……..2,907 (2009) ( 4.87%)
    People receiving ‘CARER’ assist:……………………1,327 (2009) ( 1.33%)………..201 (2009) ( 0.34%)
    Participants in Gladstone Aquatic Therapy Assoc GATA:…………………………….100
    Projected participants in FCATA Tier 1:…………….25- 50 by 2013
    Projected participants in FCATA Tier 2:…………….75-100 by 2013
    Projected participants in FCATA Tier 3:…………..100-150 by 2013

    Council have indicated that they are planning some alterations to the pool admission price structure for the next round of Budget discussions. The outcome from discussions at this meeting will hopefully go some way to getting a fairer deal for all concession card holders who use or want to use the pool.

    What is glaringly obvious and must be an oversight by Council is that it currently and has always offered ‘concession card’ discounts for its rates and all other Council managed facilities i.e. Annual Show, Brolga Theater etc … yet do not offer season discounts for ‘concession card’ holders at the pool. There is a discriminate policy in play here and Council do not want to see it or acknowledge it in any way. Council have the right to set fees and charges and no outside agency can alter that fact. Yet – Council still has to be mindful of its consistency of policy and have respect for the large disability and aged pensioner group living in its region.

    Before Amalgamation – the Maryborough Pool did offer concession card discounts – after amalgamation this was altered to reflect the Hervey Bay Pool policy. The Council’s position on this matter is indefensible.

    To more pleasant matters about the program …

  • There was another 12 ‘interest notification’ submissions for the week and this number has to continue to flow before the end of March to provide the numbers that will allow the program to carry weight when funding is applied for. Please – talk to your friends who may be interested in the program – submitting the ‘interest notification’ form is very important. I have included the ‘interest notification’ form in this post to make it easier for those who want to respond now!!!!

————— FCATA Interest Notification Form ——————–


  • TIER 1 = This grouping is represented by persons with severe disabilities who require full/part time carers.
  • TIER 2 = This group is represented by self help disability pensioners, and other pensioners with mobility issues and wish to become involved in a healthier aqua therapy/exercise program on a regular basis.
  • TIER 3 = This group is represented by all the other ‘pensioner’ groups, including self funded retirees, and people living independently who want to be part of a healthier exercise program to maintain their independent lifestyles.

————– END OF FORM ———————-

Continuing with the weekly updates …

  • On Thursday I sent a broadcast e-mail to all the Carer, Aged Care and Respite Activity listings in the 2010 Fraser Coast Community Directory. About 20 odd e-mail addresses came back as invalid – luckily the phone contact information was still valid – this resulted in a number of calls for more information and from that came a whole host of additional Carer Organisation names and contacts.The scope of Carer groups in this area is huge and rightly so given the demographics for the area in the ‘disability’ and ‘carer’ category. Its a pity that Council do not want to get ahead of this demographic and create and enact positive and responsive policies that cater for this demographic spread. Next years Council elections will be very interesting and the year ahead will see all elected Council members doing their best to get re-elected.

    It is not a casual handouts being looked for as this matter escalates – but just a fair deal that measures up with what every other Council already offers for pool admissions.

  • There was a wonderful and touching ‘Interest Notification’ received during the week from a mother who suffers a degenerative condition who has a daughter who suffers the same condition but is far worse. When you hear of these stories your heart just wants to yield whatever it can to help – this program is targeting the older citizen group living with disabilities – but surely including children suffering with disabilities can also become part of the program’s agenda. I am advised that funding for any program like this one will have very specific guidelines as to who can be part of the program. Let me say that whilst this program is in its development stage – nothing is ruled out on in for certain. All I can offer at this stage is encouragement that I will do whatever I can to see that nobody is excluded from the program because of age, sex or level of disability.
  • Traffic through this website is increasing and that is pleasing – it is the best way to keep abreast of developments and news about the program. During the week I posted the “DRAFT” rules and aims of the proposed Association. Let me state this is not in any way final – I am one person trying to get this program up and running – I have no experience in public funding programs – I have never dealt with Carer groups before – my learning curve is very steep and I need help – urgently.The best advice given to date is that I need a Steering Committee to help – I need it now and I am asking for anyone out there who might want to become a part of this program – please put your hand up and come on-board – I promise you that with what I have planned in my mind for this program – it will be some sort of ride – of course it could all ‘flame and burn’ unless Council get behind the program.

    My past experience has seen me take on many big issues – I am yet to lose a battle I really wanted to win and I can tell you that this project is not something where failure will be acceptable. I am passionate about many things – yet when I see an underdog type situation and a ‘system verses the less privileged’ battle developing – it draws me like no other battle – this battle needs to be fought and won to help preserve our humanity and our perseverance where those who can help – should help.

  • I met with the local State Member for Hervey Bay – Mr Ted Sorrensen through the week and he was very encouraging in his support for the program. He provided funding information and suggested a letter to the State Minister for Disabilities – Annastacia Palaszczuk – this submission has been drafted and will appear in the next weekly update. It will also be sent to the Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs – Jenny Macklin. Efforts were also made to meet with the Member for Maryborough, Mr Chris Foley – with his heavy schedule leading into next weeks sitting of Parliament – if has been left that Mr Sorrensen will update him about the program until we get the opportunity to meet personally.

    Along with the encouraging signs from the Federal Member Mr Neville the previous week – nobody believes anything other than this program will be great for Fraser Coast residents. I don’t believe that these gentlemen were just speaking ‘politically’ or giving me the ‘time of day’ – I believe they all showed genuine interest in wanting this program to become successful.

… Until next week … stay safe and please submit your ‘interest notification forms’ – either as a participant of a volunteer of some description – see form above for more information …. cheers for now … Ian.