By HARRY CLARKE
A MULTIMILLION dollar redevelopment of Chinchilla’s Illoura Village is now underway as part of a broader project tipped to make the Western Downs region the envy of age care service in rural Queensland.
A roll call of community, government and industry leaders behind Illoura’s $28.7 million upgrade gathered to turn the first sod as construction began to ultimately add 81 new residencies to the facility as well as a training and education centre for aspiring aged care workers.
The development comes courtesy of $14 million in funding by the Federal Government and $12 million by the Western Downs Regional Council, and follows Southern Cross Care Queensland’s (SCC) complete acquisition last year of all of the council’s aged care assets.
As well as Illoura, Southern Cross Care now owns and manages aged care facilities in Tara, Miles, Jandowae and Meandarra.
“Over the past few years we’ve made a commitment to deliver in this region and our partnership with the Western Downs Regional Council is really unique,” said chairman of the SCCQ board, Francis Price.
“It’s not about us taking over, it’s about us continuing to work together with everyone to establish, maintain and build on our relationships and how we go forward.
“Too often people think that a metropolitan solution can be transported into a rural location, and they think they can walk away and it works. The environment is totally different and we need to understand that if we’re really going to make a difference.
“My vision is for people to look here as a representation of what can be done in rural communities, as a blueprint, and to translate that to other places.”
Once completed, Illoura will boast more than 100 residencies and house an education and training centre for up to 50 aged care nursing students from the University of Queensland and the University of Southern Queensland.
The education program will be overseen by Southern Queensland Rural Health, while Illoura’s current contingent of 90 staff will be bolstered to accommodate the expanded aged care village.
The project has been driven by SCCQ chief executive Jason Eldering, who said of the organisation’s 13 aged care facilities, eight were now located in a rural area.
“At SCCQ, our heart is in serving and supporting rural and remote Queensland communities, and we are delighted that we will see our plans begin to take physical shape next year.
“Our new aged care home will offer a contemporary, comfortable and home-like environment, purpose-built to meet the needs of residents who need clinical care and support as they age and as their needs change.”
Maranoa MP David Littleproud, who secured the $14 million in Commonwealth funding during the previous Federal Government, attended the sod turning and said Illoura was “the beating heart” of his hometown.
Littleproud congratulated founding Illoura committee members Daphne and Col Taylor for their decades of service to the facility, and congratulated current resident manager Lance Payne for his leadership during a challenging and exciting period over the past few years – throughout the pandemic and Illoura’s ownership change.
“I have a personal connection to this place, and particularly to Daphne and Col Taylor, who helped make me who I am today,” he said.
“I spent most of my childhood inside those walls and that’s a very privileged position. I got to learn from those that have come before me, who bestowed their wisdom, courage and beliefs in our community.
“Lance – the way that you have run this facility, the leadership that you have shown not just here but across the community, has meant that this is a central part of Chinchilla.
“New governments have new priorities and for the fact that (the new government) continued on with the $14 million that we put in, I thank the Federal Government.”