Progress on Blue Haven consultation

Kiama Council

Blue Haven Bonaira aerial

Kiama Council has completed the first round of community consultation to explore options for its aged care business Blue Haven Illawarra.

Council resolved on 26 May to do more extensive community consultation regarding Blue Haven’s future and explore the options of keep, sell, lease or joint venture.

Since then Mayor Neil Reilly and CEO Jane Stroud have attended or hosted:

  • An Independent Living Unit (ILU) Resident Committee meeting
  • An on-site session for all Bonaira ILU residents
  • An on-site session for all Terralong ILU residents
  • An on-site and online meeting for our aged care residents and their families
  • Six meetings with Kiama Council and Blue Haven staff
  • Supported an all-staff meeting with the United Services Union to ensure staff could hear from their union as well
  • Communication with Blue Haven’s Home Care Services clients

Mayor Neil Reilly said “It’s been invaluable spending time explaining Council’s resolution, answering questions and clearing up misinformation.”

“Hearing directly from those most affected, our residents and others in our care, was a strong start to our consultations.”

“There were lots of different views and ideas, plenty of questions and a good deal of anger about Blue Haven’s past expenditures, and demands for clarity in future.”

“The diversity of views and strong emotions are natural and must be respected. Council is making every effort to engage and listen to our community, starting with those who are most reliant on Blue Haven’s services.”

Cr. Reilly said he, his fellow Councillors and senior Council staff, are working through the options of the resolution.

“We want to make sure the facts are straight, and we continue to be as transparent as possible with our community.”

“Most importantly, we need to take on board their feedback and act on it as we move forward.”

Cr. Reilly said an important outcome from the first round of consultations was an agreement to hold monthly meetings between Councillors and Blue Haven’s residents, families, staff and supporters.

Further initiatives included in the community engagement plan are:

  • A qualitative ratepayer survey
  • Open Q&A community sessions with Councillors in Kiama Downs, Jamberoo, Gerringong and Kiama
  • A white paper on challenges of aged care provision in local government to inform discussions with the Australian Government
  • A public Council report on the financing and construction of Blue Haven Bonaira.
  • Preparation of a draft Prudential Policy and draft Liquidity Management Strategy for Blue Haven for the purposes of public consultation
  • Round tables with NSW councils that own aged care facilities to develop an advocacy proposal for the NSW and Australian Governments

While preparing for the next round of consultations, work continues on key reforms at Blue Haven such as separating financial ledgers and preparing asset management plans.

Cr. Reilly thanked those who have taken time to share their views so far.

“The engagement to date with Blue Haven residents has not been easy, but has been good, and essential before we talk with the wider community.”

“I’m especially looking forward to working with my fellow Councillors when we sit down with our community members in the next stage of consultations.”

Kiama CEO Jane Stroud also thanked those who took time to get involved in the consultations.

“I’ve appreciated the honest exchange of views, frank questions and chance to establish the facts with our staff and residents.”

“There is a good deal of emotion and misinformation circulating about Blue Haven, so speaking directly with those most affected, calmly and with respect, has been the right way to start our consultations.”

Council has a Blue Haven – Frequently Asked Questions web page to keep our community informed.

/Public Release. View in full here.