A petition tabled on the floor of the WA Parliament has shone a light on Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s strong reaction to the transfer of community meals provision to Amana Living.
- The transition of Meals on Wheels to a Perth-based provider has struck a nerve in Kalgoorlie
- Locals say the move goes against the council’s “buy local” mantra
- The petition’s author says it represents a broader neglect of essential services
MLC Kyle McGinn tabled the petition on Tuesday, which tallied 1,874 signatures gathered in-person by concerned locals.
Mr McGinn said the issue had struck a nerve with local seniors.
“I think it’s important that we don’t have this chopping and changing at that time in somebody’s life,” he said.
Currently, fresh meals are prepared daily from the Eastern Goldfields Community Centre kitchen.
When it was decided that the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder would step back from providing home-based aged care services, Amana Living was chosen to pick up the contract.
As part of the transition, the Perth-based not-for-profit decided to pick up the community meals delivery service, which will be prepared in Perth and chilled to be trucked to Kalgoorlie and delivered the next day.
“Given the demand and the need within the community and Kalgoorlie, we are going to extend that meal service to those people who would like to continue to receive meals delivered to their home,” Jenny Williams from Amana Living said.
Locals object to the change
David Oakes championed the petition and attends the Eastern Goldfields Community Centre for meals.
“I’m absolutely aghast at the council’s privatisation of the meal services at the community centre going to Amana Living,” Mr Oakes said.
Almost 100 concerned citizens attended a forum last week organised by the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder to discuss the changes.
Janet Harrison attended the meeting and said the social contact provided by the service at the local community centre is vital for older people who often suffer from isolation.
“With old people, if they’re left on their own they do get depressed,” Ms Harrison said.
“My husband has passed away, so I like to get into the company of other people the same age.”
Meals on Wheels volunteer Sue Jessop said she was worried for her customers, who do not like change.
Ms Jessop also said the transition to a Perth-based provider goes against the council’s “shop local” mantra.
“So your [local supplier] Piccadilly Butchers won’t be providing the beautiful meat and everything else like that.”
No prior consultation
The council told the community meeting that the decision to hand the contract for home-based aged care to Amana Living was made at the federal level, and extra funding for the Meals on Wheels service was no longer available.
But concerned locals like Joan Gray said the lack of consultation at the time was not good enough.
Ms Gray is now trying to set up another not-for-profit organisation to keep the meals in the community centre kitchen going.
“I’ve just been trying to think over and over and over and over how we can get this to work with volunteers and things like that,” she said.
Ms Gray said she was disappointed with the lack of consultation or transparency from the council prior to the decision.
“We could have perhaps had something really organised,” she said.
“It won’t be done in time. The kitchen, I imagine, will close on the 30th, but we might have had time to organise something.”