7 December 2022
Community members who attended a public meeting last night convened by the Eden Recovery and Resilience Alliance (ERRA) were encouraged to contribute their voices to the continuing conversation and advocacy about the future of former aged care facility Nullica Lodge (also known as Roy Wotton Gardens).
Current lessee RSL LifeCare closed Roy Wotton Gardens in December 2021 and it has since remained empty. ERRA understands the organisation still has 10 years remaining on a 40-year Crown lease over the property.
The Future of Nullica Lodge public meeting attended by more than 100 local residents, heard the 27-bed facility, built largely from funds raised by the people of Eden and surrounds, was an important community asset with potential to be returned to community control as a means of addressing the lack of affordable housing options for seniors and people with disabilities.
Speakers at the meeting held at the Eden Memorial RSL hall included Councillor Joy Robin, Mick Brosnan of the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast, State Member for Bega Dr Michael Holland and Mayor and Liberal candidate for Bega, Russell Fitzpatrick.
ERRA chair Carina Severs said the meeting had been called to update the community about the status of Nullica Lodge and to begin community-driven consultation with local people about the options for its reopening.
Representatives of RSL LifeCare did not attend the meeting after having initially agreed to participate.
Those who attended the meeting were asked to respond anonymously to three questions:
· What next steps do you believe the community needs to take in relation to Nullica Lodge?
· How do you feel about the need for the community to take back the lease of Nullica Lodge?
· What questions do you have about what is involved for the community to take back the operation of Nullica Lodge?
Ms Severs said these questions would be put to the wider community via an online and hard copy survey to be distributed over the coming weeks.
“The responses to these questions will be collated and used as evidence of the community’s wishes and concerns as we continue communication with RSL LifeCare and State and Federal government representatives.
“ERRA facilitated the meeting in response to concerns expressed by community members about Nullica Lodge.
“We are disappointed RSL LifeCare decided in the end not to participate.
“We fully understand the organisation is faced with challenges in determining how it should best proceed with the use of the facility. However, this was an opportunity to share those challenges with the community to create better understanding.
“Nullica Lodge lies empty during a terrible housing crisis. ERRA’s aim is to facilitate open dialogue between the community, RSL LifeCare and any other interested parties including State and Federal governments and other housing providers.
“The building was originally built as a low care hostel providing affordable accommodation for seniors and, later, supported accommodation for people with disabilities. That’s exactly what is needed now, more than ever.”
Visit Eden Community Access Centre’s website for more information about ERRA’s Nullica Lodge Reactivation Project.
Photo: L to R: Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick, State member for Bega, Dr Michael Holland, Mick Brosnan from the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast, Councillor Joy Robin, meeting facilitator Peter Skelton and ERRA chairperson, Carina Severs.
Please direct media enquiries to Eden Community Access Centre Inc: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Speakers at the Future of Nullica Lodge public meeting held 6 December