PALLIATIVE care volunteer Meredith Dennis with her not-so-trusty Suzuki Vitara loaded up with equipment.
PALLIATIVE care volunteer Meredith Dennis with her not-so-trusty Suzuki Vitara loaded up with equipment.

Have a heart

By DARREN COYNE

MEREDITH Dennis has been recognised as Tweed Shire's Citizen of the Year but it appears the Federal Government doesn't want to know her.

Ms Dennis received the award for her work with Tweed Palliative Support Inc, a group of about 35 volunteers supporting people with terminal illness wanting to die in their own homes.

The group applied for a measly $40,000 late last year to fund a new van - to be used for transporting patients and equipment ? but the Federal Government denied the request.

It's understood around $4 million was available for projects involved in the transition from hospital to home of terminally ill patients.

Now the group has no other option but to continue to use Meredith's old Suzuki Vitara to transport the patients and equipment, despite the Suzuki being unsuitable because of its size and age.

"The reason we were given for the refusal of funding was that we were unable to prove that we could sustain the project," Ms Dennis said yesterday.

That's despite the group having operated voluntarily in the Tweed district for more than seven years.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot yesterday promised to raise the matter with both the Prime Minister John Howard and Health Minister Tony Abbott.

"It's really outrageous that they didn't get that grant. It just goes to show how out of touch the Howard Government is. Tweed Palliative Support provides an amazing service.

"When Parliament resumes next week I will be putting questions on notice to the Prime Minister and the Health Minister asking why they did not get the grant," Ms Elliot said.

Asked whether a community appeal for funds was the answer, Ms Elliot said, 'I believe it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to provide these services'.

After researching various models, Tweed Palliative Sup-port Inc had applied for $40,000 to the Department of Health and Ageing buy a Mercedes Veto van.

The van would be used to transport special beds, toilet chairs, walkers, and other speciality items which areused in the care of dying patients.

Since the group's plight has been raised by The Daily News Ms Dennis said a number of people had contacted the group but no real funds had been forthcoming.

The group is also interested in hearing from anyone with experience writing funding applications.

Tweed Palliative Support can be contacted on 0266728 459.



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