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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

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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.

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:

Sue,

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

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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

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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…

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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: http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/D/DisabServA06.pdf ]

  • 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:    https://fcata.wordpress.com/contact-info-for-federal-and-state-members-local-councillors/

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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 ….

25th Mar – Another Comment Post …

This post was received moments ago and says it all – a great number of the people who have rang as a result of the Observer and Herald ads feel the same way:

from … Roz: … I cannot understand why in 2011, we have to beg council for a proposal of this sort. I have done my bit tonight and emailed all politicians, and councillors regarding the matter. But why is it necessary to do so?  Its a known fact that aqua therapy assists a great many people with chronic illness and disability. I thought we had got past having to beg for this sort of help a decade ago, apparently not.

I will not give my vote to any Politian or councillor that does not make a speedy progress towards this happening in fact I will physically lobby against them come next time they are begging for my vote.

Fraser Coast Regional Council, your pools belong to the constituents, a great many of which are either aged or have disabilities. You are not providing a service which is fair and reasonable to all, by denying access for this type of therapy to be used in the pools in this area.

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Here … Here … I say and have been for two years with this Council.

  • My research uncovered a little know fact before the Maryborough and Fraser Coast Councils merged – Maryborough did offer ‘concession card’ discounts.  When they merged the Maryborough pool reverted to the Hervey Bay Council Fee structures. – no concession card discounts.  This was confirmed when I rang the Maryborough pool about their ‘concession card’ policy with respect to discounts before the Council mergers – the pool person I spoke to explained their admission prices confirming the discounts.
  • Another reason for this Council to be embarrassed comes in how the Gladstone Council support their Aqua Therapy program – the donate $40,000 worth of free pool time each year – and also allow all concession card holders ‘free’ access to their pool between 8:00 and 9:00 am Mon – Fri …  Their program has been running for over 20 years – and they too had troubles initially getting the Council support.
  • Another story about another Council stepping up and assisting their elderly and disabled came from a lady who has signed up as a participant – she has 20 years of physio experience as a nurse in a Gold Coast Program – she was very vocal about the FCRC and there reluctance to get involved – she will be a great asset to the program.

This Council has no option other then to re-consider their position – as the support for this program will continue to grow – and the current Councillors think about their re-election chances in March next year – perhaps the demographic group that this program will benefit may have some say in who they support and whether they become re-elected.