Posts Tagged ‘Disability’

29th Mar Update …

Hello all,

Yesterday was a watershed day in many ways …

  • First off in the morning there were on camera interviews with Channel 7 and Channel 9 – they came in response to help spread the word about the program to the Fraser Coast community.  Both Channels indicated they will air the interviews Monday night – interviews can be seen using the links below – files are compressed .avi file format and run for about 90sec –
  1. Channel 7 Local News Story
  2. Channel 9 Local News Story

The comment I will make on the record about the content of the interviews is that there are no versions of the truth – I challenge the Mayor to deny he gave an undertaking during a meeting in Sept 2010  to immediately address the issue of ‘concession pool’ prices.

The undertaking he gave was that Council would not wait until the next round of budgets to move on ‘concession card’ discounts – his comments in the linked interviews above were not an honest reflection of the commitment he gave during that meeting – his other interview comments were a muddied version of the truth – he was playing politics –

I call him to account for his comments – he cannot deny that he shook my hand and looked me in the eye and said: ‘No – we’ll do something now’ – in response to his Director Community Development’s suggestion that they do a review in the 2011-12 budget.  The offer he did make has been documented at this site previously –

As to what other information he spoke about – the man is unconscionable and still has no comprehension what this program is about an can offer to the Fraser Coast Community …

  • A registered participant who contacted the Federal and State Member – and a Councillor – copied to me the return comments by Councillor Brooks who I call a flip-flopper – and to ensure she is not misquoted – her response is pasted hereto in full –

sent 25th Mar:


My partner Neville, is unable to walk very much at all, due to significant problems with his health, To have something like this in Hervey Bay for people with disabilities would be wonderful and is urgently needed, Please support this

for me, as a carer I am not getting much attention and help from anyone as it happens.


response 28th Mar: from Councillor Sue Brooks

I hope Mr Bleys is successful in launching a group. I am sure Council will provide support to any such group once it is created.

Take care, Sue


further reply to Cr Brooks:

sent 28th Mar:

Thanks Sue, my understanding is that the Fraser Coast Council has not been very supportive of the issue


28th Mar – final response from Cr Brooks:

This is just not true. Mr Bleys wants Council to create the group and support it etc and this is not what Council does. We require the community to create the interest and/or bring it together and then we can work out ways to support it. Mr Bleys is doing a great disservice by running Council down. I believe he is not helping his cause and is not understanding the Council commitments properly. We do not have the resources to go out and create this group but if the community does, we will help as much as we can. We have always said this!

Ta, Sue

PS It is not just about entrance fees to the pool…


I sent the following message to All Councillors and Lisa Desmond yesterday after I received the Cr Brooks information:

To – All Councillors and Ms Desmond –

You are advised that the Cr Brooks comments are completely incorrect and misguided –


For some history please read the attached file sent to All Councillors in Sept 2010 – a summary version appears below:

The file can be read using this link:  Pool issue 20100922

  • Two years ago I contacted Debra Moore with a DVD about the non existence of ‘concession card’ discounts for pool admission.
  • Ms Moore said there was nothing she could do and suggested I contact Cr Muckan – I left several message for Cr Muckan over a matter of weeks and he replied to none of them.
  • I again contacted Cr Muckan via e-mail to raise the same issue again early 2010 –
  • That resulted in a Council meeting in August last year – see attached file for Council minutes and responses …
  • Council requested a report on ‘budget impact’
  • Council report does not respond on ‘budget impact’ – but quotes erroneous numbers for other Council pool admission fees.
  • Council report proved to be false in its information –
  • My own report submitted –
  • Mayor requests meeting
  • Mayor gives an undertaking to fix the problem –
  • Mayor gives me a personal invitation to pay the full and general admission price on a monthly basis – no discount to the general public price –
  • This monthly payment plan is already available to the General Public
  • During research for report – Gladstone Aqua Therapy program is discovered –
  • Approach made to Council about supporting a similar program –
  • Council advise they cannot support a program or establish such a program –
  • Federal Funding grant ‘Healthier Communities Initiative’ canvassed with Council as being a possible funding option for program
  • Council advise the funding application they are preparing and the parameters they understand the funding to be made available under – do not suit the proposed aqua-therapy program –
  • Further research undertaken with Carer groups and they all suggest to apply for funding under the ‘Healthier Communities Initiative’ – submissions for this Federal grant closed on the 4th Feb 2011 –
  • Back to Council and told that they cannot become involved with the aqua therapy program – it has to be established by the community before council can get involved –
  • Further research done on establishing an aqua therapy program on the Fraser Coast undertaken –
  • Council again approached on pool access and cost question –
  • Council indicate they will negotiate pool access and cost when Management Committee formed –
  • Council informed that no funding applications can be made until Council give undertaking to support the program with pool access and a known cost for that access –
  • Council refuse to answer further correspondence or return phone calls –

Council are aware of my own disabilities and their restrictiveness – yet they offer no logistical support to help establish a program that would benefit a great many number of people living in this community – forming a Committee to manage what will become a $500-$750k annual budget requires people with some experience and financial ability.  The people who will benefit from this program will be able to provide some volunteer type help – but as for being able to serve on Committee and manage a budget, staff and the logistical support required for this program requires people with relative experience.

I do not have the ability to go and knock on doors seeking Community leaders to become involved with this program – all my efforts to date have been made largely over the internet – some small media help and by phone – in fact there have only been three councillors who has made any attempt to contact me in relation to this program – and I would go so far as to say  –  collectively – they and the rest of the Councillors take no responsibility for voting unanimously on the Council produced report last August – they got it wrong then – and they have it wrong now –

As a Council – of course they can act to better service their local community – they just choose not to when it comes to the aged – the disabled and the concession card group on this issue …

Why should they wait for this group to form their own committee and structure a program and then approach Council to beg them to help – why the hell don’t Council be pro-active in helping this Group help themselves.

Cr Brooks’ comments are naive in the extreme and are indicative of just how Council and Councillors recognise this large demographic group living in their community – they need Council to provide initial support by providing pool access and a costing for that access to help get the program up and running.

Carer groups have large Administration and funding behind them – this program does not have that – everybody says this is a great program and is needed – yet nobody at Federal, State or Local Council wants to become involved at the base level of formulation and getting this program up and running – the question is why?

This Council provides a budgeted General Public pool subsidy in excess of $250K per year – what do they provide for the ‘concession card’ group for pool subsidy – zero  support – if they matched the general public subsidy – then the program has a base level of cost funding to make application for Federal and State funding.  That level of support would encourage funding from other groups –

If the only thing stopping them from making a commitment like that is that they want to deal with a Management Committee – then I say bullocks – this is a genuine attempt to do good community work and if council cannot see they – they are blind –

I do hope this clears up the misleading information Cr Brooks has put forth in her response …

She has continually got her facts wrong and completely off topic when she has responded on this issue with me in the past – any support she has offered to date comes as a flip-flopper and has had no real contribution to where the program is currently –

Regards … Ian Bleys.

Let me say further –

  • The Council have had 2 years to address any moral and conscious position they personally may have in ‘not’ offering ‘concession card’ discounts to pool users – and they have not budged – this is not something that has just suddenly arrived at their front door – the Hervey Bay Council had never considered the issue of ‘concession card’ discounts prior to the amalgamation – yet the Maryborough Pool according to my research did offer concession card discounts –
  • In the 2 year period this matter has been on the FCRC doorstep – the Council have given the ‘general public’ a budgeted $500k in subsidised admission prices – and not a thing for ‘concession card’ holders using the pool.
  • When Cr Brooks says it is not just about entrance fees – she is right – it is about how a Council she serves on and supports – can be so blatantly prejudiced against the ‘concession card’ demographic on pool admission prices – when the  same Council can offer ‘concession card’ discounts of varying degrees on so many other Council services in the area –  [i.e. Council Rates – Bus operators operating under Council Tenders – Brolga Theatre – Maryborough and Hervey Bay Shows – and I am sure there are others.  In addition electricity suppliers offer discounts – as to private local business’s – tradies – Supermarkets – some Professional services etc ] –
  • What is the problem in expecting this Council to fall into line with every other like Council up and down the QLD coastline and offer pool discounts to the ‘concession card’ holders.
  • It is not like this group is going to the pool for leisure activity – they are going for exercise and the need to use the pool to assist with their mobility issues.

No – the Fraser Coast Regional Council are wrong and they also run the risk of the State Member for Local Government becoming further involved over the State Disabilities Act 2006 – and with reference to the following sections as a start … : [the Act can be downloaded via this link: ]

  • Part 1 – Division 2(6-8) [Objects]
  • Part 2 – 18 [Persons encouraged to have regard to human rights Principle]
  • Part 2 – 19(3-5) [Persons encouraged to have regard to human rights Principle]
  • Part 2 – Division 2(20–33) [Service delivery principles]
  • Part 3 – Section 34 [Minister may make disability service standards]

The FCRC presides over the highest per capita number of disability pensioners in QLD – yet it is a Council that does not recognise what this really means.  The pool provides such relief for and assists in so many ways to aid this group – they have never thought to help this group in this way –

Councils reasoning is they believe someone else should put together a program for this group of disadvantaged persons.  Yet late last year when a local carer tried to instigate a Learn to Swim program for a disability group – the Council chose to refused them access even though it was independently funded and staffed away from the pool staffing resources.

The Council does allow private physio’s to bring their clients to the pool because the pool does not offer this service.  They also allow privately conducted water aerobics and other exercise programs on a private ‘pay as you’ use arrangement the persons conducting the program.

The Council has very strange attitudes to the whole ambit of disabled and aged persons using the pool to keep fit and help with mobility issues – as long as you pay the general public price – you can use the pool.

That attitude does not run consistent with what it does for ‘concession card’ users in other Council services and amenities.  I dare say that the Council policy on this issue is flawed in a way that Council do not understand what the pool offers and can mean to those wanting affordable access to manage their mobility issues.

Have you had enough of this Council?  Contact your Local Member and give them a serve – their contact details can be found at this link:


To change the target away from the Council for a period as advised by a mentor – I turn to the positives of the week –

  • I will be making a few calls during the week to approach some people about serving on an interim steering Committee – looking for 4-5 people to serve until the first General meeting.
  • The Gladstone Aquatic Therapy Program President intends to make a trip to Hervey Bay to attend what looks like a delayed General Meeting to be held on the 5th May 2011.
  • It is very important that the meeting be delayed until this time – the lady who set up the Gladstone program now residing in Hervey Bay has indicated today that she is prepared to become part of the initial FCATA steering Committee – she is away for most of April.
  • Carol has been advising me on so many matters relating to this program – but not the Council bashing stuff – that she will be an invaluable asset to the program.   She is a qualified nurse and started the GATA program off over 22 years ago – she is very familiar with Council problems coming to terms with a program like this.
  • The steering Committee will be looking into the registration of the Association and its Incorporation – and will present a different face to Council to hopefully bring about changes to their resistant position.
  • I looked to the number of Respite Carers and their preliminary estimates and the number is approaching 200 – I have over 60 individual Interest Notifications and this is fast approaching the bottom side of initial target estimates of 300-500 in this initial interest stage.
  • This is but a fraction of the 5,500+ disability and the 14,000+ aged pensioners living in the area.  Hopefully the media stories on TV last night will carry the message out to a greater number of potential users of the program.

Cheers all ….


23 Mar 2011: Message to all CARER Groups …

The following Message was sent to all CARER groups today:


To all CARER Groups – and Other Parties …

Hello all.

The 31st March deadline for Interest Notifications is a week or so away.

This message is a reminder to all the Carer Groups who sent forms out to their clients to please have them lodged by this deadline.

Some Carers have had some trouble trying to get clients guardians and the like to complete out forms.

To overcome any difficulties – logistical or otherwise – can I ask the Carer’s to do the following?

  1. The Interest Notification is purely an interest level notice – nothing is committed at this point by indicating an interest –
  2. To help Carers – it is asked that where forms cannot be filled out for any reason – that the Administrators and client Carer be asked to make a determination about their clients as to –
    1. Whether the client would be suited or advantaged by this program –
    2. Does the client enjoy the water –
    3. Would an aqua-therapy activity be something the client would want to do –
  3. If the Administrator/Carer can answer the above questions for each of their clients in the affirmative – please log them as an Interested participant and categorise them as either:
    1. Tier 1 – This grouping being represented by persons with severe disabilities who require full/part time carers.
    2. Tier 2 – This group being 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.
    3. Tier 3 – This group being 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.
  4. Please – if you can make the determinations with respect to the above and on behalf of the Carer Client – these numbers will provide the initial forecast interest levels to allow for Budget estimates and submissions to reflect the genuine interest in the program.
  5. I have attached a blank Interest Level Notification form to assist filling out Client details – [Please if privacy issues are a matter of concern – please make all personal detail c/o your Carer Group.] Please mail these forms as soon as you can and if they won’t be finished by the 31st – please phone before the 31st and provide the numbers and follow up with the forms.

There are well over 5500 disability pensioners living in the Fraser Coast Region.  Any single program will struggle to cope with that many participants on a weekly basis – This program is seeking genuine estimates of numbers so it can formulate a structure for the program for both Maryborough and Hervey Bay. The people who have lodged interest notifications will be given preference when the initial program begins.  There are plans to expand the program on a quarterly basis – but whatever numbers are received in this initial period – will determine what level of interest the program attracts from Care Funders and Federal and State Funding agencies.

Please – again I repeat – if you can have the numbers your Carer Group can provide submitted by the 31st Mar 2011.

Thank you for the support and hopefully – the Tier 1 level will start July 1st – and the Tier 2 and 3 can start in both Maryborough and Hervey Bay as soon as Council can agree to admission terms and pool access.

Please – any queries about the information hereto – please phone.  Thank you again for your assistance with this information and support for the program.

Kind Regards … Ian Bleys.


Interview with Pool Manager – 10th Mar 2011 …

Hi all,

I had some good news yesterday (10th Mar) – it was not from the Council – Council made contact last night after I had written this post – I agreed to delay its upload pending a discussion about the content of the post and what is contained in a letter advised as being sent yesterday …

As relates to the positive news before the Acting CEO messaged last night:

I sat with the Hervey Bay Pool Manager yesterday – Paul – the meet went for over an hour and we talked about the FCATA program and in particular access times available, and the indoor and outdoor heated pools – Paul was happy to provide his own feedback.

Several weeks ago – during late January – Ms Debra Moore had told me not to talk to the Pool Manager about this program – I respected that directive up to recent events when Ms Moore and other Council employees refused to return calls or respond to E-Mails –

This meeting with the Pool Manager was very open and candid – firstly –

The Pool Managers Equity Position:

This subject was broached as a result of some allegations presented to me that needed to be confirm – I first contacted Mr Sorensen’s office – and he suggested I contact Council or ask direct questions of the Acting CEO – Lisa Desmond.  Council did not respond on specific questions put to them on this matter.

I then approached the Pool Manager to get his account first hand – something the Council did not do – and from Ms Desmond late response last night – she has not been able to gain any information about the matter anyway in fact I was able to inform her about what she was trying to find out.

Paul first took on the Hervey Bay pool lease in 1995 – for 3 years – the 50m pool, the wading pool, and the current building block were already built when he took on this lease.  He again renewed the lease for another 3 years in 1998 – and during this second term – Council gave him permission to do pool renovations at his own cost.

He built what is now the ‘indoor learn to swim’ facility – improved the wading pool with all the games and slides that are currently part of that pool section, and he also installed all the shading that is currently visible.  His outlay for these renovations was $200,000.

Some 5 years ago – he did a deal with the Council to rescind his equity position and applied for the Pool manager position – he was successful in his application and now draws a contract wage as the Pool Manager and a sees himself as a Council employee.

His charge is to run the pool as its manager and draws no bonus nor other income from any pool asset or pool activity.

Paul was happy to volunteer all this information to clear up certain information that was made known to me.  The third party who provided that information has been update with relevance to this conversation and to clarify their understanding and hopefully be wary of the future quality of information distributed.

Secondly – The Learn to Swim Question:

I had previously approached Council at our 21st Feb meeting to get the reasons why a Hervey Bay Carer Group Learn to Swim program for disabled clients they were funding was refused access to the Indoor Heated pool.

This question was raised with Ms Desmond – the acting CEO – with three other Councillors – and another Council employee – Ms Debra Moore in attendance.  Before Ms Desmond could respond to the question – Ms Moore cut into the conversation and made the following statement:

‘That is a confidential matter between the Council and the Carer Group – I will be talking to the Carer group to try and resolve the matter.’

I accepted that statement from Ms Moore at face value and did not pursue it further.

When I spoke to the Carer after the meeting to update them – and in follow up conversations about the program – the Carer Group advised they have had no further contact with Council about this matter. They also confirmed that they have had no formal notice from Council as to why the Learn to Swim program was denied access.

Why did Ms Moore tell a deliberate untruth at that meeting on this issue – why has she not followed it up with the Carer Group as she advised?

10 days or so ago – I sent a message to Ms Desmond following up the 21st meeting discussions to find out about what progress had been made on the ‘pool access’ issue.

She responded – see previous post for copy of her response – I sent another message over the weekend and that message has yet to be responded to -[response received late yesterday evening].   Because of this delay and the continued non response to phone calls to Ms Moore and Mr Smith – I made the decision to seek a conversation with the Pool Manager about his views concerning the FCATA program.

The Pool Manager indicated that perhaps one of the reasons Council have been slow to respond to any of the matters raised in the latest message to Ms Desmond – is that none of the current staff were around when all of Paul’s lease/Pool Manager transition happened.

Paul also emphasised that currently – he carries out the Council’s pool price policy and his two operational concerns are that the pool functions smoothly and provides for the residents of Hervey Bay – and that pool safety is a priority.

Thirdly – Pensioner Discounts:

Paul and I disagree on this Council’s ‘non existent concession card’ pool admission price policy – we have disagreed on this point for as long as I have been trying to get Council to address their discriminate policy.  It is just a difference of opinion and I will continue to try and convince him otherwise.

Paul’s position on any pool admission discount comes from his days as a Pool Lease holder – any reduced cost on admission prices would directly eat into his revenue streams – now that his position is a Pool Manager – he is charged to run the pool to a Council Budget – those discounted revenue pressures are no longer something that he is overtly concerned with in his current position.

The Hervey Bay pool Budget:

The Hervey Bay pool budget for 2009-10 and the forecast for 2010-11 can be viewed as a .pdf file by opening the linked file below:

H_Bay Pool Operational Budget Pools (2) – In essence it breaks down to this:


Hervey Bay Pool Operational Budget: Original Budget 2009/10 Amended Budget 2009/10 Actuals 2009/10 Budget 2010/11
Total Operating Income $472,000 $472,000 $642,172 $657,000
Total Operating Expenses -$730,551 -$730,511 -$770,194 -$924,500
Net Operational -$258,551 -$258,511 -$128,022 -$267,500


To summarise further – the Fraser Coast Regional Council structured a Budget for 2009-10 for the pool to run at an operational loss of $258,551 – and the 2010-11 deficit is forecast at a  $267,500 shortfall.

The Council accepts the pool loses money on a yearly operational basis – yet when they were approached for ‘concession card’ discounts that would have cost a forecast $1000-$1500 in Sept ’10 – the Councillors collectivelly voted on the motion and said ‘NO’.

The FCRC pool budget has forecast subsidises to the general public entry costs to a value of $258k and $267k over last years and next years budgets – yet when approached for ‘concession card discounts’ – the Council were not prepared to make any offer that would reduce the ‘concession card’ admission costs below those of the General Public.

Some History of the ‘Concession Card’ discount application:

This decision was a collective choice made by all Councillors when they unanimously voted not to review the ‘concession card’ discount request at their Aug ’10 meeting.

I responded to the Council’s vote in September with a report that contained information that refuted the information contained in their own report produced by Council staff – no outside advice was sought in compiling this report – this report has proved to be factually erroneous and misleadingly so – it suited the Council’s needs to ‘shut me up’.

I sent my review of the Council produced report to ‘All-Councillors’ – the Mayor’s Secretary contacted me immediatly and arrange for me to meet with him – that was in late Sept ’10 – he sat down with me with – Andy Gaze and – Peter Smith – and I gave them the factual evidence that contradicted the Council’s report – at the end of that meeting the Mayor shook my hand – looked me in the eye and gave me an undertaking that he was going to ‘do something to fix the problem’.  I took him at his word and believed that would be movement by the Council on the ‘concession card’ price policy.

That ‘something’ came a few weeks later when – Mr Peter Smith (Director Community Development) – rang me with the Mayor’s proposal/offer –

The MAyor was prepared to offer in that I personally – could now pay the annual ‘GENERAL PUBLIC’ fee on a monthly basis – just so long as I did it at the Council Chambers and not at the pool.

Talk about a ‘DUTCH” gift.  As if I was seeking a personal response – it was insultive and showed a complete lack of respect for the efforts I had put in trying to convince the Council they were wrong in their pool pricing policy.

The Pool Manager told me this same deal was already available at the pool for any season ticket buyer …

Mr Kruger’s offer was a ‘Scrooge’ effort and paid no respect to my approach to have this matter dealt with.  The Mayor then call me ‘disrespectful’ when in a response to one of my message I wrote after hearing of his proposal he commented as follows:

From: Jenni Oort [] On Behalf Of Mick Kruger
Sent: Wednesday, 22 December 2010 11:26 AM
To: ******
Subject: RE: Pool Season Ticket prices for Concession Card Holders

Hi Ian,

Thankyou for your e-mail of 22nd December 2010 relating to Pool Season Ticket prices for concession card holders.   The contents of your e-mail is unacceptable in its present form for reasons of the foul display of courtesy.


Mick Kruger

I never used ‘disparaging or foul’ language – the message called a ‘spade a spade’ and is available it anyone wants to have a read.

This level of ‘meanness’ demonstrated by this Council in not addressing the ‘concession card’ discount issue – is born from people who should never be in a position to lead or make decisions about a Communities needs and wants.

Supporting matters presented to Council during this period and since to try and appeal to their sense of civic duty include:

  • FCRC is the only researched Council between Brisbane and Mackay who does not offer ‘concession card’ discounts across all pool admission prices for Council Managed pools –  click on the file link here: pool stats to see a spreadsheet outlining all the pools admission prices researched …
  • FCRC currently offer concession card discounts to the – Brolga Theatre – on there Council rates – Maryborough and Hervey Bay shows – the Bus contract was issues under a Council tender and concession card users get discounts.
  • In addition most local business offer a pensioner discount – Movie Theatre – trades services – yard cleanup services – Electricity suppliers – Meals on Wheels – there are a host of community conscious business and sole operators out there who offer discounts for services to pensioners or concession card holders – but not the FCRC when it comes to their pool admission price policy.
  • I have not been the only one who has raised this issue with Council – a number of Carer groups have also had a problem – carers have to pay to attend to their charges when they enter the pool –  whether they get in the pool or not –

Council are just wrong in their position on this issue –

The FCATA program was born from the research undertaken to refute the Council’s own report presented at their August meeting – from that came the discovery of the Gladstone Aquatic Therapy program (GATA)  – it is a aqua-therapy program that has been in operation for 20+ years – learning about the program has given me motivation and insight to just what can be done by a community when they get behind a program that improves the quality of life for so many disadvantaged persons.

You may ask what all this past history has to do with the proposed new FCATA program – well nothing really other than the history of how Council have bumbled their way through this issue is a reminded that history matters when trying to understand why current and future decisions are made.

Council have a closed mind mentality to this matter and it needs to be exposed to make them accountable to their community.

The Mayor wants to run again next year – the information contained hereto gives some insight into how committed the Mayor is about helping the disabled and pensioner group living in this area.

The Gladstone Aquatic Therapy program:

GATA currently receive HACC funding for their program – in addition the Gladstone Council also provide $40,000 worth of free pool time – and they also allow any person with  a ‘concession card’ to attend the pool between 8-9 am – Mon – Fri – free of charge

To help with the growth of the program – they also added special amenities for the participants of the program.  It took the Council a few years to embrace the program – reasons for the Councils eventual involvement were many – one of those reasons is a little known fact about a Gladstone Councillor who had a child – or a relative – who become part of the program – that seemed to get the Councils attention and as they say – it grew from there when the results proved to all concerned what could be done with aqua therapy.

All it takes is a little vision on behalf of those who are ignorant to a situation – leaders who embrace that type of vision are few and far between – any concession I have had from the FCRC has been earned whilst they still resist being dragged toward a decision they know they will have to make – pride and stubbornness is the Council’s problem on this matter.

The FCRC response:

The Gladstone Councils commitment to their GATA program makes this Council look like ‘Scrooge’ types –

With their pronounced ignorance – all hidden behind a stubbornness and a lack of compassion and understanding to how persons with mobility issues struggle to live on a pension – one would think they would view and try to support self-help efforts to join a aqua program to get exercise and improve their mobility.

I have tee’d off here and I believe it is justified – I challenge the Council to come to the first General Meeting of the FCATA to be held in a few weeks and gain some first hand knowledge about the program.  To date I have only received responses from 3 councillors to messages sent to ‘All Councillors’ e-mail addresses – they all get it but from the responses received – only 2-3 think it important enough to respond.

The demographics between Gladstone and Fraser Coast on this issue and for the targeted group for the FCATA looks like this:


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 Pen’s living in area: 5,388 (2009) (  5.41%) 1,121 (2009) (  1.81%)
Aged Pensioners living in area: 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 GATA: 100


Source information for this table came from:


FCRC have no logical or factual foundation response to the data that promotes this debate – the continued ‘no response’ from Council to the matters raised in the last 2-4 weeks demonstrate their lack of understanding on any policy formulation in how to deal with what has been asked of them.  The recent CEO resignation may have left a void – but the Acting CEO seems capable and she wants the top job – but even she seems to have left this program sunbathing on a rock … nothing from her since midday Sunday when the message was sent – [update – a message was received late yesterday evening and after this post was written.]

Pool Access:

The Pool Manager talked openly about the Hervey Bay pool and its current pool commitments and how he could accommodate pool access for the program.  He indicated that Council had recently asked him about pool usage but gave no detail to him about the FCATA program or its request details for pool access.  I outlined the requests made of Council and they were:

  • Free access to the Hervey Bay and Maryborough pools between 7:30 – 9:00am Monday – Friday for Tier 2 and 3 accessed FCATA members –
  • Free Pool availability between 9:00 – 12:00 noon for Tier 1 FCATA members for both pools – 3 days in one center and 2 days in the other one week – and reversed the following week –  he obviously could not speak for Maryborough Pool access.

The pool Manager said the pool was generally free of public usage between 7:30 and 9:00 am Mon – Fri – and he saw no issue with allowing pool access during these times – this could be the heated 25m and/or the 50m pools during Summer.  Schools don’t have access until 9:15 am and Club and other squad training is done by 7:30 am.

I have had no discussions with the Maryborough Pool Management regards access – the Maryborough Swimming Club have not responded since I asked them for a copy of the Maryborough pool Budget in January.  The Council speak for this pool as well.

Paul did mentioned that the Indoor heated pool is used for learn to swim classes up to 11:00 am weekday mornings.  He said it would be available for the program from 11:00 – 3:30 pm if that suited the FCATA program.  This is a matter for further discussions – it is hoped that the outdoor heated pool will suffice.  Paul’s advice was that if the Tier 1’s are not that active in the outdoor heated pool – they will get cold – this advice was welcome.

It is necessary to link the Tier 2 & 3 access together with the Tier 1 – a number of the Tier 2 and 3’s will stay on after their 7:30 -9:00 session to help with the Tier 1’s.


These discussions continued to be open and cordially – Paul gave every indication that he had no problem with ‘pool access’ requirements for this program.

His primary concern – and this relates to why the Carer learn to swim program was denied access – was that the pool currently offers certain services that are operated by outside agents – i.e. private physio sessions and private water aerobics sessions – both these functions provide services the Pool cannot currently accommodate.

The Carer Learn to Swim program was a conflict to existing Learn to Swim classes already conducted by the pool staff.   Many disabled children attend these classes – and on this point – Paul is creditable in his explanation – the issue of disabled seniors and learn to swim classes is a different matter and one that he would have to consider.

The question is why did Ms Moore from Council mislead me about following up with the Carer Group – and try to withhold this simple information from becoming publicly known?

Council are acting as if they are stuck in the ‘hares glare’ – they cannot see a way to solve this self made mess:

  • They must be aware of the aged and disabled demographics of their community –
  • they must know that any self help program will help alleviate the strains and stresses already in play on the regions health services –
  • they know that the aged care business in this area drives a significant amount of employment and commerce in the region –
  • all these reasons and more and still the Council stays silent –

Whatever bunker they are hiding in is surely damaged – whoever is advising them must be youthful and without disability or aged care understanding – the Council must consider and provide for its residents –

I want to thank the Pool Manager for his time and openness – it was refreshing to speak to a Council employee who showed real interest in hearing the full vision for this program.

For now we must all continue to wait until someone with enough knowledge, and creditability get ahead of this matter as opposed to the continued lag and negative responses being offered … this Community is crying out for a program like this – Council should be pro-active and leading the momentum for this program as a part response to addressing the future health issues facing this community.

FCATA – Blog 4

Hi all –

Yes – I know – the ABC Wide Bay radio interview was again delayed.  I spoke with Wayne Shearman who I did the interview with after his show and he was apologetic – the story got kicked because the QLD opposition leader was in the studio.   I am told either tomorrow morning at 6:45 or 7:15 – but more likely Monday at either of those same times … alls well and he will send me a audio file and the interview will be posted on-line via this site.

The overnight stats from people having a peak at the FCATA webpage was much higher than expected – there were some glitches with the link from the Chronicle’s on-line link that returned ‘404’ messages.  Indications of interest are still the real measure of how the community sees this new program and I urge all those who want to be a participant in the program to indicate their interest.  Please – any other interest indications are also very welcome as this program will not be able to function in its initial stages without volunteers and their generous offers to help.

Plan to spend part of the day setting up a new independent FCATA blog site … let you all know when its done about the new address …

talk later … Ian.



FCATA – Blog 3

Good news tonight … late this afternoon I received an e-mail from Lisa Desmond, Acting CEO and she sent me a copy of the Pool’s operating Budget for 2009-10 and to date for 2010-11.  The data these budgets contain allow you to draw a very different picture to that concluded by the summary numbers appearing in the Councils Annual Budget publication.  Mayor Kruger had denied me access to these reports an I quote:

‘ … The Council operates the pools as a community service obligation to the Fraser Coast Region as are many other services that Council provides. …   … Whilst Council could process your request under RTI, [Right for Information] you may still not get the figures that you are seeking due to possible exemptions under the RTI Act due to information which may be subject to ‘tendering arrangements’ in the near future. … ‘

I appealed the matter to the State Minister for Local Government … Ms Desmond’s communication this evening has produced the budgets asked for, and I thank her for that.

The other bit of good news was that Mr Peter Smith [Director Community & Development, Fraser Coast Council], rang me late today as well.  I had left 3-4 messages for him over the last 7-10 days – and with the flood issues and concerns – I was not really expecting a return call any time soon.  I had also been a bit rough on Mr Smith leading up to the Christmas break re the ongoing battle over the concession-card discount matter.

Mr Smith informed me that he thinks that the Fraser Coast Council has applied for a Federal funding grant under the Healthier Communities Initiation due for submission by the 4th Feb 2011.  He also was quite helpful when I asked if I could see the application to get an idea of what will be required in 2013 when the FCATA plans to make its formal application.  He intends to chase all that up tomorrow and if the flow of data happens – perhaps we just might start to see some positive responses from Council in the next month or so.

And yes, there is another good piece of news – Cr Sue Brooks – someone who has gone toe-to-toe with me as they say – has also done a back-flip.  With all the good news yesterday with the cold-calls to the Carer Organisations I made, I sent a thank-you message to them all for showing their interest and giving them some more background detail about the program.

I sent a copy of that message to ‘All-Councillors’ and to a few other people who are on the mailing list as well.  Cr Brooks then saw fit late last night to liaise with the same Carer people the message was sent to with the following message:


‘ …  Speaking personally I believe Council will give whatever support it can to such a programme. Community based organisations have opportunities to apply for funding under the Council grants programme and Council can assist in other ways also. My understanding is that at this time Council does not have the capacity or priority to actually form or run such a group itself.
In relation to pool entry prices our pricing is, generally speaking, reasonably cheap compared to other public pool facilities and Council will be setting pool entry prices every year as part of the budget process. So it is possible that Council will alter pool entry pricing in the future.
I wish Ian every success in developing this programme as I do believe it would be beneficial to many residents.
Cheers, Sue
Councillor Sue Brooks
Environment portfolio
Sent from a Fraser Coast Regional Council BlackBerry Wireless Handheld … ‘


I am not too sure what Cr Brooks thought she was doing – but I certainly believe she had good intentions when she made a decision to liaise with these contacts.  In essence – her message represented a complete back-flip to her last lot of messages she sent me only 1-2 days previously.  I could make an assumption – but I won’t.  But I am thankful Cr Brooks appears to have come some way from her original positin.

Tomorrow is another day and it starts early – the ABC Wide Bay interview playback that was to be on this morning – is now on for tomorrow morning.  Hopefully that will give some more coverage and I think the Chronicle might be doing a follow up to correct a few of the Council spokesperson’s mis-truths published today.

The feedback has been all a big positive – except for what I suspect as a couple of ‘plant’ comments to the Chronicle’s story today.  With the follow-up – that should communicate the correct data.

cya  … bleyzie.

FCATA – Blog 2

To further update the data supplied by the Council spokesperson, and as published in the Fraser Coast Chronicle on the 19th Jan ’11, the following  comments were made:

” … Council said daily entrance fees were half price for pensioners, cutting the $3.70 fee to $1.85.

“The full year season pass is $293 – applicable to everyone,” a spokesperson said.

“Visiting the pool four times a week for a full year would cost $1.40 a visit using the season pass. …”

By comparison, and using all the Regional Councils between Brisbane and Mackay, the mean yearly price for a season ticket among all those Council pools is above $400.  It is more expensive in regions south of Fraser Coast, and  gets cheaper as you go north.  They all offer some discount ranging from 50%-20% for aged and disability concession card holders.  They don’t require a Doctors certificate – and if you take Gladstone as an example – all concession-card holders can swim free between  8-9 am,  Mon-Fri.

The bigger picture is to try and keep the aging and marginalised population exercising … it will save the Australian economy $100’s millions in short term reduced medical expenditure.  Fraser Coast Council is currently the most discriminate Council when it comes to recognising this statistical fact.  They should be doing everything they can to encourage this aging and disadvantaged to try and maintain their independent living lifestyle for as long as possible.  It will save the public purse $billions in the long run.

The subsidy asked for when Council was approached for the ‘concession-card’ discount was around $1000.  The Councils 2010 budget show the Hervey Bay pool had a $680,000 running cost shortfall.  Some of this is infrastructure appropriation, however, it is still $100’s thousands of dollars being spent to subsidise the ‘general public’ entry cost into the pool.

Linked below is the Council’s request for a report on the ‘budget – impact’ of altering the concession-card entry price for season tickets.  The Council produced report is also included in the summation, as is a researched response report that actually contacted every Council pool and spoke to someone and extracted the information about their ‘concession-card’ and ‘general-public’ entry costs.  The information destroyed the creditability of the Council’s own report.   As a response the Mayor arranged a hasty meeting and made a statement to ‘do something now’ to address the problem.

The Mayor had one of his staff offered me a special deal where by I would be the only one the receive the deal – he said I could pay the season ticket price on a monthly basis – yet it would still cost the same as the ‘general-public’ ticket cost.  This Council would not give up a $1000 to help the current users who purchase season tickets.

Link to Council Report on Pool Pricing, and the response report:

Pool issue 20100922

Link to Submission form to indicate you level of Interest in the Aqua Therapy Program:

bleyzie …

FCATA – Blog 1

This is a first blog for the Fraser Coast Aqua Therapy Association.  It is made available to all interested parties, i.e. potential participants, volunteers, professional therapists, and the like who want to be involved with this program.

The program is to help and offer Fraser Coast marginalised residents who suffer from handicaps, disabilities and assorted mobility issues, an aqua therapy based program.  The program is enough interest is generated will apply to the Federal and State Governments to become part of their Healthier Communities Initiative program.   This FCATA program is a ‘not for profit’ project – and we are currently seeking ‘indications of interest’ from local residents on many levels.  These levels might include potential participants, volunteers,  fund-raising, serving on Committee, helping with transport and pool activities, it might be in Web site administration, or Government Grant and funding applications.  This is a start-up program and any advice about your interest level is most welcome.

Indications of interest will stay open through to the end of March 2011.

That message started this morning  – 19th Jan ’11, when the Fraser Coast Chronicle ran a story, about an issue associated with the program – it can be viewed using this link.

This story is a start and will hopefully draw broader community interest.

This post is all about the positives that a program like this will and can do for the Fraser Coast region.  It will be a better and more successful program if Council can support the program.  Efforts to date have not been encouraging – and regardless of comments made in the linked story above – there is evidence from Council to the contrary.

A big issue will be how Council responds to its pool pricing structures for ‘concession card’ holders now that its discriminate policies toward this demographic has been exposed.  The daily entry discount mentioned in the story is not a concession or disability card discount, but a ‘rehabilitation discount’ that can only be obtained if it is accompanied by a Doctors certificate. That point is important on the context of this Council’s pool pricing policy.  Without that Doctors certificate – nobody gets a discount to the ‘general public’ admission prices.

By comparison, Gladstone Council provides ‘free’ access to their Council pool between 8:00-9:00 am  – Monday to Friday, for all or any concession card holder.  They also have an Aqua Therapy program that has been running for 22 years.  Their program is funded under a Home and Community Care program (HACC), has some 100 participants, 6 part-time professional staff, a host of volunteers, and permanent part-time staff running the administration.  Gladstone Council provide upwards of $40,000 in free pool time over the year to help the program.   It is a business model that we hope to be able to emulate for the Fraser Coast region.

Please, if you know of someone who would be aided by an aqua therapy/exercise program, please make them aware of this information about the proposed program.  The link to get more information about FCATA and submit your interest level data is:  Interest Level Data Submissions.
Cheers all … bleyzie …