Land for aged care scarce

HOME SWEET HOME: Ballina Community Aged Care resident Nola Kilby with Ballina MP Don Page and Pam Osborne.
HOME SWEET HOME: Ballina Community Aged Care resident Nola Kilby with Ballina MP Don Page and Pam Osborne. Doug Eaton

WHILE the Australian population is ageing, Graeme Croft, a director of Ballina newest aged care facility, said it is difficult to find land for new nursing homes.

Mr Croft, director of family company Innovative Care, was speaking at the official opening of the Ballina Community Aged Care centre at North Ballina last week, a facility which has been operating for about five months.

While the $18m state-of-the-art facility will create 150 jobs when the 122 rooms are filled - already, 77 residents call it home, and 95 people are employed - he said it wasn't easy to find suitable land for the facility. He said it was a problem in Ballina, but also a problem generally.

Innovative Care operates nine facilities with a total of 1100 beds and currently is building others.

"We looked at a four or five different sites before settling on this one (in Ballina)," he said.

He said land was constrained and governments at all levels needed to earmark land for new aged care facilities in their planning.

He said the demand for a new aged care facility was high in Ballina, and across Australia.

And he said, while aged care facilities are all funded the same way through the Federal Government, there were state-to-state variations in the payment of developer contributions.

He said Innovative Care paid Ballina Shire Council $1.1m in developer contributions, but didn't pay anything for facilities in Victoria.

State Member for Ballina and Minister for the North Coast, Don Page, in opening the new facility, said he was "sorry to hear" it was difficult to find land for the facility.

He said he would take that issue on board, and encouraged the representative for the Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, who attended the opening, to do the same.

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