Monday, 7 September 2009
Meals on Wheels
I take this opportunity to applaud and support the work of the national organisation Meals on Wheels, which was founded in South Australia in 1953 by Doris Taylor. Because of a childhood accident, Doris was permanently disabled by the age of 16 but spent her entire life trying to assist the aged, the housebound and people with disabilities. The first Meals on Wheels kitchen opened in Port Adelaide on 9 August 1954. From a service which began by providing meals to eight people, Meals on Wheels South Australia today has 10,000 volunteers who service 5,000 clients through 100 branches, including 40 kitchens.
As many of us know, the Meals on Wheels model started by Doris Taylor has been copied around Australia and overseas. This year, Meals on Wheels Modbury branch, in my electorate of Makin, celebrated its 35th anniversary. I place on record my personal thanks and appreciation to all those people who, to date, have volunteered their service to the Modbury branch. I was able to attend their AGM last Monday and touch base with a number of them.
Nationwide, Meals on Wheels Australia relies on some 78,000 volunteers and serves over 50,000 meals per day. Meals on Wheels provides the support and care needed by elderly people and people with disabilities who want to live in their own homes. It ensures that elderly people receive one hot meal per day, which represents about a third of the daily nutritional and energy requirements for an elderly person. As well as delivering food, the daily visit is a way of checking on the welfare and wellbeing of an elderly person or a person with a disability living in their own home. If the resident does require medical assistance, the Meals on Wheels volunteer is able to call for help. The service provides peace of mind to the person’s family, knowing that their elderly relative who still lives independently receives a daily visit from a Meals on Wheels volunteer. Meals on Wheels volunteers donate their time and sometimes their vehicles to deliver meals, often without any sort of financial assistance towards the cost of fuel and other expenses. Volunteers work as drivers and deliverers as well as cooks and kitchen helpers.
On 18 August the CEO and the Chairperson of Meals on Wheels, Cam Pearce and Leon Holmes, addressed some federal parliamentarians here in Canberra on the services, the national benefits and the needs of Meals on Wheels nationwide. The Meals on Wheels service not only supports vulnerable people who remain within their own homes but also saves the government millions of dollars in hospital and healthcare costs. The financial assistance provided to the organisation by the federal government represents very good value for money. I support the organisation’s request for additional federal government financial assistance.