Years-old plans for aged care centre in Nhulunbuy. The project has now been put back on the table.
Construction on a long-awaited aged care facility for the remote Territory town of Nhulunbuy could begin as soon as the 2020 wet season.
- A service provider has pledged that the Nhulunbuy aged care facility could be completed by April next year
- The facility has been touted for years but has never come to fruition, leaving a gap in services for the region
- The aged care royal commission will begin hearings in Darwin from Monday, July 8
The announcement was made to stakeholders on Friday — years after the project was first promised and days before royal commission hearings into the sector hit Darwin.
In the stakeholder statement, seen by the ABC, community service provider Australian Regional and Remote Community Services (ARRCS) said “the capital works contract has now been executed for all parties for the construction of the 32 bed flexible aged care facility in Nhulunbuy”.
“Commencement of works is anticipated as early as February 1, 2020 with practical completion estimated for 30 April 2020,” the statement said.
“This is great news for the communities of East Arnhem Land and for ARRCS who have been working towards this over a number of years.
“The minister will be making an official announcement in days to come.”
ARRCS falls under the umbrella of UnitingCare, the community services arm of the Uniting Church of Australia.
New facility will bring benefits
The news also arrived on the same day that the ABC reported the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety would not be visiting the remote Northern Territory, where a lack of aged care facilities has been badly impacting on the region’s elderly.
East Arnhem Land’s Eddie Mulholland, the chief executive of Miwatj Health, said last week that a facility on the Gove Peninsula would be a “great thing for us”.
A lack of aged care services in Nhulunbuy has meant elderly seeking hospital treatment need to stay in a hostel. (105.7 ABC Darwin: Emilia Terzon)
“There’s a lot of benefits that would come to the region here if we did get something set up here,” Mr Mulholland said.
“They’ve been talking about it for as long as I’ve been CEO of Miwatj Health, which is 13 years.
“It hasn’t come to fruition up to this point.”
He said the gap left without the promised Nhulunbuy aged care facility had had disastrous results, including elderly people living in poor conditions in overcrowded housing and being forced to hide food.
“I can’t believe the situation that people have to live in this environment — it’s madness,” Mr Mulholland said.
Royal commission to hear evidence
ARRCS said in its statement that it was now “busily working on an implementation plan to ensure that we collaborate closely with the East Arnhem Land and Nhulunbuy community” over the planned facility.
The community service provider also operates facilities in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Docker River and Mutitjulu.
The ABC last week requested a visit to ARRCS’ Darwin aged care facility, Juninga, which was declined.
The royal commission into aged care hearings begin in Darwin on Monday, with 32 corporations and individuals slated to give evidence.
Among them were Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Danila Dilba Health Service, Purple House, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and more.
ARRCS was not on the witness list for the Darwin hearings.