CANBERRA, ACT — Following a successful community-led fundraising campaign, the Snowy Mountains will see the Currawarna aged care home in Bombala reopen as an assisted living facility in January 2024. This development is a beacon of hope for other towns facing similar challenges, such as Berridale.
Southern Cross Care shut down the Currawarna Aged Care facility in April 2022 due to staffing shortages. This closure forced residents to seek care over 100 kilometers away. In response, Bombala’s community members embarked on a fundraising mission to revive the town’s sole aged care service.
Chair of Currawarna Assisted Living, Keith Campbell, announced that the facility would reopen on January 15. The community raised $340,000, supplemented by a NSW government grant of $840,000, to transition the site to an assisted living model, offering more independence to residents while still providing necessary support.
Bombala, a small rural town with a significant elderly population, has shown remarkable resilience and initiative in addressing this vital need.
Steve Whan, Member for Monaro, commended Bombala’s efforts and confirmed ongoing plans to expand the Bombala Multi-Purpose Service (MPS) with a $15 million grant for 30 aged care beds. However, federal government financial support details remain pending.
Meanwhile, an hour north in Berridale, the community is grappling with the closure of the Snowy River Hostel aged care facility, slated for March 2024. Despite efforts, no provider has been found to take over, leading to its closure. Residents are relocated to nearby Cooma facilities, and staff receive redeployment assistance.
Cheryl Mould, chair of the Snowy River Hostel steering committee, expressed her community’s dismay and highlighted the inspiring efforts made by Bombala. She remains hopeful for a similar outcome in Berridale, suggesting the potential for a respite center but emphasizing the current focus on aged care solutions.
As Currawarna Assisted Living prepares to reopen, the contrast with Berridale’s situation underscores the ongoing challenges in regional aged care. Keith Campbell of Currawarna Assisted Living stresses the need for broader solutions in the region.