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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Neville’

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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Weekly Update 12th Feb 2011 …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    To more pleasant matters about the program …

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

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












Where:

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





————– END OF FORM ———————-

Continuing with the weekly updates …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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