By Kirra Grimes
RESIDENTS of Korumburra aged care facility Carinya Lodge had a very special visitor last week, as the Deputy Prime Minister flew in to town on a private plane to make a surprise funding announcement.
Leader of the federal National Party and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, attended the residential facility last Tuesday afternoon, announcing a Coalition funding commitment of $1.3 million for upgrades – including the refurbishment of 40 residents’ rooms, providing each with ensuite bathrooms; as well as improvements to existing common areas, landscaping, security, and accessibility.
In making the announcement, in a room full of residents, staff and members of the volunteer-led committee of management, Mr McCormack said he was pleased to deliver funding that would help the not-for-profit facility continue to care for the South Gippsland community.
“[Carinya] does an outstanding job for the people who have given so much to the local community, who should be able to enjoy their life close to family and friends,” he said.
“They should be able to retire with distinction, knowing that they’re close to loved ones, close to support, and they can here at Carinya. And now they’re going to be able to do it in refurbished facilities, so, it’s fantastic,” he said.
Mr McCormack, who earlier that day had flown into Leongatha from Sale on a private plane and later on jetted off to Gladstone QLD, was accompanied on the Carinya ‘doorstop’ by local federal MP Russell Broadbent, who said the funding and associated upgrades would be “very important for Korumburra,” not only ensuring valued members of the community were looked after in their “golden years,” but also boosting local employment, with 15 jobs expected to be created during the construction period.
Government funds a great start
Welcoming the announcement alongside residents was Carinya CEO Cindy Nicholas and committee of management President Jenny Blackmore.
Ms Nicholas and Ms Blackmore said the Deputy PM’s visit had come as a complete surprise to everyone at Carinya – with only 24 hours notice he’d be attending to make a “significant” announcement – but that Federal Government funds towards upgrades were something the committee had been pursuing for some time.
Thanking Mr Broadbent for his lobbying efforts on Carinya’s behalf, Ms Blackmore said upgrades to existing facilities were “a great start,” but she was quick to add that with a major expansion – including the construction of 17 new residential rooms – on the horizon, there was much more fundraising work to be done.
“We’re about to embark on a $7.5 million building project, and we’ve been making a lot of cutbacks to fit within that budget because we’ve received no federal or state government funding up until now,” Ms Blackmore said.
“Refurbishing our existing rooms was something we really wanted to do but was one of the things we’d thought we’d have to cut, so it’s fantastic that this money will allow us to do that (and keep this project),” she said.
With the building contract for the expansion works just days away from being signed, and construction set to start in the next few weeks, Ms Blackmore said the committee would be ramping up its fundraising efforts – not only continuing to apply for government grants, but also seeking support from the Korumburra and surrounding community.
“As an organisation, we’ve never borrowed money before and we’re hoping we won’t have to do that. So, it’s going to take a lot of fundraising to achieve the best possible outcome,” she said.
“We’ll be looking for community support and we think they will support us because we’ve got a great strategic plan – not just within the lodge but we’ve also got our independent living units; we’ve got a large parcel of land where we’re getting ready to build more; we want to build a community centre.
“There’s so many things to do but money is so tight, and it’s very hard to be constantly budgeting and sourcing funds for infrastructure projects at the same time as concentrating on our core business, which is caring for the people we love.
“Our aim is to provide our older community members a home in the district so they don’t have to go elsewhere. And we have had to send people elsewhere because we simply haven’t had the rooms available, so these projects are really important,” she said.