Community stories: 26 March 2018
Thallon is a small town with a population of around 260, located 600 km west of Brisbane in south west Queensland. It’s a close-knit community and local residents like to stay in town, or move into town off surrounding farms, as they age.
However, there are no dedicated aged care facilities or purpose-built independent living units, so people either move into regular housing or go to larger centres. The community has agreed that this is a situation they want to rectify and has prioritised the creation of a community-owned independent living units.
The Thallon Progress Association (TPA) is lead the economic development organisation in town, and has members from all community organisations, including Council, represented.
They have a successful track record of getting things done for the community, including working with the Balonne Shire Council to equip the local recreation grounds with infrastructure required for Thallon to be designated an RV friendly town, as well as being the driving force behind the impressive local silo art and the newest ‘big thing’ – the giant statue of a Northern Hairy Nose Wombat, both of which are important tourism draw-cards.
Despite having no experience in this area, they agreed to act as the lead on the development of an Independent Living Unit complex to provide options for local citizens to age in place, with support of their family and friends.
Professional advice breaks down complexity
Anything to do with aged care is complex, and the TPA wisely decided their first step would be to get independent legal advice about setting up a fit-for-purpose legal entity to own land, develop the infrastructure and oversee the management of the complex and the services it will offer.
However, they needed external funding to cover the costs.They received an FRRR Caring for Ageing Rural Australians (CARA) grant of $7,032, funded by the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation. This enabled them to engage local solicitors and obtain specialist advice on the most suitable legal structure for this aged-care initiative.
As a result, Thallon Community Services Ltd has been set up as a registered company. It has an ABN and is now registered as a Charity. The Company has a sole member (Thallon Progress Association) and an initial Board of three Directors, who report to the Association at their AGM.
A suitable parcel of land has been identified and now the real work begins, as Thallon Community Services Ltd aims to improve the well-being of all citizens by creating hope and opportunity, enhancing social inclusion and independence, addressing the impact of disadvantage and improving the districts’ liveability.
In their acquittal report, TPA acknowledged their appreciation of the grant, saying that it had allowed them to lay the foundations and establish a structure suitable to grow their strong community forward. They also indicated that without this grant, the project would not have gone ahead.