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Posts Tagged ‘Fraser Coast Chronicle’

24th Mar Update …

Hi all,

Yesterday – (23rd Mar) –  I again tried to speak with Ms Desmond – the Acting CEO of the Fraser Coast Regional Council.  I was seeking to have some dialog with the CEO over the pool access costs for the FCATA program – and follow up the message I sent her on the 11th March. There has been no response to this message to date.  I was informed on the 18th Mar that the e-mail message had been received and printed out.

I was told that Ms Desmond was locked in meetings all day and that matters had backed up on the CEO – the reason for that backup was of course on the News last night about the Council workers going on strike.

Instead – I had a pleasant conversation with her Aid – Katherine.  She was very loyal and spoke of the CEO’s workload – and I then began to understand a few things.

Whilst this FCATA issue is an important issue from my and many others perspectives – it is one of  many issues the CEO is dealing with on a day to day basis.  She is under immense pressure as the ‘ACTING’ CEO  and the Councillors are extracting their pound of flesh as she tries to prove herself worthy.  But then with a Salary of $250,000 plus perks and superannuation – one would expect that the workload would be fierce.

During the conversation – her Aid let slip that there were over 1600 ‘unread e-mails’ in the CEO’s inbox – when I heard it I asked her to confirm the number – she did.

This spoke volumes as to where the FCATA sits on the CEO’s agenda.  The fact that no acknowledgment or auto response has been received suggests that someone needs to give the Acting CEO some help in making her understand that ‘auto-response’ messages at least give the sender of the e-mail some idea that it has been received – and that the matter has been logged.

Can you imagine what important information might be contained in those ‘unread e-mails’?  I don’t know how many messages she receives a day – but to read and act on 1600+ messages would take many days – perhaps weeks to deal will all the issues involved.  Surely some sort of delegation of responsibility would be in order to ensure that those ‘unread messages’ are dealt with in order of importance. This might just be an insight to why Council takes so long to respond or action anything.

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For several months – since August last year and before – I have continued to pound this council for their inaction over pool admission prices for concession card holders.   That same battle is now taking place in the form of FCATA and trying to extract from Council a price for the FCATA and its future members to go to the pool.

In Oct/Nov last year – the Mayor showed immense disrespect and contempt for the concept of this program in the after math of a meeting I had with him in late Sept 2010.  At the end of that meeting he looked me in the eye – shook my hand – and told me and his Director Community Development who was also in attendence – ‘No – we will do something now to fix this!’

His offer came two weeks later via his Director Community Development – Peter Smith – in the form of a one off arrangement for me to to pay the GENERAL PUBLIC price for a yearly ticket on a monthly basis – the proviso being that I had to pay it at the Council chambers rather than the pool so as to avoid any public awareness of the arrangement. This was an individual offer to me personally when the Mayor knew I was approching him on the basis of all concession card holders.

In an interview with the Pool Manager two weeks ago – he told me that the pool had been offering this arrangement to all purchases of season tickets if they asked for it for several years.

That made the Mayors offer absolutely hollow – a joke – and an insult to all the efforts to convince him to the moral and logical reasons to make a fair decision for the ‘concession card’ group wanting to use the pool.  His offer was an ‘up yours’ response and needs to be exposed for the total lack of responsibility he showed in the position he holds. This man is not worthy to hold the office he does if this is the way he treats marginalised residents living in his constituency.

To provide further information about the Councillor response to the FCATA program – there has only been 3 Councillors respond to any of the 15-20 or so e-mails I have sent to All-Councillors about this program and the Admission price debate since Sept-Oct last year.

That is a pathetic response from a group of Councillors who preside over the 5,500+ disability pensioners in the region – the highest number per capita in QLD – and 1,400+ who under carer attention – and the total 30,000+ over 55’s who are approaching a period in their life where a program such as this will benefit them greatly into the future – and help them remain independent livers.

This Council are not forward looking people – they have no vision about what this program is about – nor what it can and will provide for so many isolated and marginalised residents in this region.  On a matter of such importance and significance for the Fraser Coast region – I would have imagined all the Councillors would have been enthused about a program like this and have made some sort of supportive contact.

Each of the State MemberMr Foley and Mr Sorensen and the Federal Member Mr Neville, have given their support for the program – why is it that council are last to come on board.

The program needs community support to attack this Council and make them aware of how they have misjudged the need for a program like this.  Please ring your Local Councillor and badger them – make them feel pressured to support this program – ask them the question whether they support the program and why not if they say ‘No’.

If they say they support the program – ask them what they are doing about supporting the program – be persistent and not let them fob you off – get angry – express your emotion  – make them accountable for their view.

Please if you do ring your Local Councillor or State/Federal Member – and get a response [see below for Phone Numbers] – log on to this website and tell the readers of this blog your story and the Councillor/Member you rang and their response …  the link to that submission is here – or to the right under Menu Links.

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Phone Numbers:

Local Councillors:

To send an E-Mail to All Councillors – please this address: All-Councillors@frasercoast.qld.gov.au

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Please Ring your Local Members …

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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:

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‘ …  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
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Sent from a Fraser Coast Regional Council BlackBerry Wireless Handheld … ‘

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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:

http://bleyzie.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/proposed-new-fraser-coast-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 …