Perfect site . . . the former motel at Moonee.
Perfect site . . . the former motel at Moonee. Coffs Coast Advocate

Left out in the cold by cutbacks

COFFS Coast Aboriginal elders have been left out in the cold after the Federal Government withdrew promised funding for the Yarrawarra Aged Care facility near Moonee.

In 2005, Coffs Harbour City Council approved a proposal by the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation to turn a former motel on the Pacific Highway into a permanent group home for Aboriginal elders and their carers.

Last year, the Federal Budget promised $470,000 towards the project under the Sustainable Regions program.

But that money has been stripped from the multipurpose respite centre following the axing of the funding program from this year's Budget.

The funding in question was pegged for major infrastructure upgrades to the motel site, including design and construction of road access, wheelchair access to bathrooms and installation of a hot water system and air-conditioning.

The renovation would have employed 60 people during the construction phase and a further 25 full-time jobs would have been created by 2009.

Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, said the funding withdrawal shows the government's lack of understanding for the local indigenous community.

"The Yarrawarra project would have delivered many community benefits through specialised aged care accommodation, respite residential care and a day care centre," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"It is a slap in the face for indigenous aged care and indigenous employment opportunities on the Coffs Coast."

The centre was also set to provide training and education for indigenous students in the delivery of aged care services via a partnership between North Coast TAFE and the Enterprise Training Company (ETC).

Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation selected the Moonee site because of its position close to support services at Woolgoolga and Coffs Harbour, and due to the configuration of the existing building making it ideal for conversion of the former motel into an aged care facility.

Currently elderly indigenous people looking for respite need to travel to Tweed Heads.

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