Oct 31, 2022

Aged care worker village plans in jeopardy with funding axed

31_10_22 Bethanie

To attract carers to regional Western Australia in the midst of their housing shortage, a local aged care provider decided to build a permanent workers’ village, but it could all be scrapped following the Federal Government axing a major regional development fund.

Aged care provider Bethanie planned to construct 70 onsite units at its new aged care home in Bunbury, WA, to ensure they can attract workers despite a huge shortage of affordable housing with some workers reportedly sleeping in tents.

Workers’ villages are usually associated with mining towns in the State’s north-west, but Bethanie planned to construct one for aged care workers and offer leases to other key healthcare workers in the region, including at the nearby Bunbury hospital.

The housing project was approved by the WA Government’s Joint Development Assessment Panel last week, however, the original funding for this project may be in doubt.

Bethanie had sought $8 million through the Building Betters Regions Fund for the project from the previous Government, money which the new Federal Government cut the funding stream for as part of Tuesday night’s Budget.

The money for this project is now awaiting approval and putting the whole initiative up in the air.

Chief Executive of Bethanie, Shane Ogilvie, told ABC this project was vital and that he had concerns about the fund being scrapped.

“The South West region is in dire need of accommodation that is affordable for people that work in the aged care and health care industry,” he said. 

“We’ll have to see clarity on what our options are going forward now the program’s been cancelled.

“… I like to hope we’ll be able to find options to see this project become successful again.”

Minister for Regional Development, Catherine King, also told ABC that $1 billion would be allocated over three years to two new regional programs and applicants from the Building Better Regions Fund could reapply.

“We want to ensure all applicants can have confidence in the process, following a decade of waste and rorts under the former Government,” she said.

Western Australia’s Regional Chambers of Commerce Chief Executive, Kitty Prodonovich, confirmed all areas of WA were dealing with housing shortages which saw private companies recognise that experimental ideas were needed to help fix it. 

“There’s no one quick fix to this housing shortage,” Ms Prodonovich told ABC.

“It’s going to take everyone doing a lot of different things, from Government to private industry to individuals.” 

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