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Our voice will be heard: Mayor

Thursday, 26th May, 2011

Locals should become more aggressive in their fight for aged care services in the city, Mayor Wincen Cuy said.

And, he said, he would get the ball rolling immediately.

"We need to bang the table and bang it very, very loudly," Mayor Cuy said last night.

"I will be taking this forward to make sure that our voice is heard to both state and federal politicians.

"I will be making this community's views heard strong and loud wherever I can to the right people ... I'll be on the phone."

The Mayor added his voice to the current wave of complaints from local health and aged care officials about the Federal Government's approach to aged care in country areas.

Many believed a lack of government attention to the outback's unique needs was at the heart of the overcrowding at the local hospital.

The hospital has been forced to begin relocating elderly patients who are waiting for places in local aged care homes hundreds of kilometres away at other facilities.

Mayor Cuy said he had previously outlined his concerns to the NSW Ministerial Advising Committee on Ageing at a public consultation in the city in February, but had received no response.

"I don't want to be seen as jumping on the bandwagon because I expressed the exact same opinions as everyone else three to four months ago when the Committee was in town ... and I haven't heard back from them," the Mayor said.

"It was the strongest thing in my presentation - that we can't be seen like everyone else, our population is ageing very rapidly."

In 2006 Broken Hill's population had an estimated 18.9 per cent of residents aged over 65. Projections showed that by 2031 more than 30 per cent of the local population would fall within that bracket.

An ageing population combined with distant neighbours could easily result in aged care crises becoming commonplace in the city.

"I said back then that Broken Hill cannot be grouped in with every other area in Australia. We simply don't have a close neighbour to send these people to, the nearest one is 200km away," Mayor Cuy said.

"It's impractical, and it flies in the face of treating people with dignity and respect while they're living in an isolated area like ours."

The situation would get worse, he said.

"We have a hospital that was built for a community of 15,000 - no good," Mayor Cuy said.

"This community will be around for a long time to come with an increased population, not a decreased population, so those things need to come home to state and federal governments."

After being ignored on the aged care issue at a federal level for so long, Mayor Cuy said it was time locals made a stand.

"This isn't something that has happened overnight - it's been going on for the last 10 years, and I don't know why there hasn't been more emphasis and investigation on the issue," he said.

"We're just advocates, we have no real control over the issue but we have to bang the table as loud as possible and we're happy to do that.

"We need to be a lot stronger and more forceful in our approach to this situation in future."

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