House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Constituency Statements

Richmond Electorate: Feros Care Village Byron Bay

9:33 am

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to talk about Feros Care's decision to close their Byron Bay village. This is a residential aged-care facility, but it is so much more than that. This is home for the 36 residents who live there, and for many of them it's been their home for a considerable period of time. For others it has only been their home for a short period of time. It has been such a distressing period in which Feros Care announced the closure of this village.

It was announced in such a sudden way, and it's caused a huge amount of distress for the elderly residents, many of whom, of course, are incredibly vulnerable, given their age and medical conditions. It's also been very stressful for their families as well. Of course, it's been an incredibly difficult time for the staff and, indeed, for the broader community because Feros Care is such an integral part of the Byron community, especially as George Feros himself, for many years, walked the streets to raise money to build this facility, and so many locals donated huge amounts of money to see this facility operating. In fact, it has been there for over 30 years and is dearly loved by the community. That's why this sudden decision to close it, without any notice to anyone—to the residents, to their families or to the staff—was obviously met with incredible distress. I share that distress as well, because it is such a difficult time for everyone involved.

I have spoken directly with the Minister for Aged Care in relation to this. She shares the concerns. Like me, her main concern is for the wellbeing of those residents at the moment. I have in fact spoken to residents, and they are besides themselves because of the sequence of events and how fast this has been. Now they are all having to look for somewhere else to live. As one of the residents said to me, moving at any age is difficult but moving when you're in your 90s is incredibly hard, particularly on top of the events that have happened. I've made it very clear to everyone involved that I am here for them every day, every step of the way, in terms of any support I can give them and their families. I know Feros is working with the residents to try to find a new home for them to live in.

As I say, it's a very distressing time for everyone involved. I again say to everyone at Feros: I am here for you. Please contact me or your families so we can provide any assistance you may need in this incredibly difficult time for you primarily. That is my main focus for all the residents in Feros at the moment. I also share the distress of the community in terms of the suddenness of this announcement. It has been such a difficult time for everyone, but our main focus is, and should remain, on those elderly residents, ensuring their wellbeing is looked after.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives

Sitting suspended from 09:36 to 09:4 8