Monday, February 21, 2011

Broken promises galvanise the people of Mitchell

This morning, three phone calls from friends in Mitchell pulled me back to the heart of the outback, there to bask in its warmth: warmth of temperature and warmth from the community itself.

A mouse plague is testing the patience of all and sundry -- the result of abnormally good pasture growth and grass seeds by the trillion. But more important than mice is the council's sudden decision to close Mitchell's twenty bed aged-care hostel, known affectionately as The Retirement Village.

Upon amalgamation, Roma promised that no services would close in Mitchell; therefore, the community is outraged at this unexpected disclosure. Twenty patients have no where to go, fifteen jobs are at stake, and the flow-on effect would be considerable. The school, hospital, library, businesses, land prices -- all would be affected, in a negative way.

Apparently the community has to come up with $2-$3 million, the cost of building a new, up-to-date facility -- and before May 2011. I don't know the financial details, nor do I understand the politics behind the proposed closure. What I do know, though, is that the people of Mitchell and surrounds NEED an aged care facility within their own community: that people are united in their distress and anger over this non-caring decision.

The power and compassion of the people of Mitchell and surrounds is a much stronger force than that of mere councils and bureaucrats.

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