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Byron Shire
October 20, 2021

Now’s the time to save Mullumbimby hospital land

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The letters deadline for The Echo is noon Friday. Letters longer than 200 words may be cut. The publication of letters is at the discretion of the letters editor.

The Mullumbimby Hospital Action Group (MHAG) an informal committee comprising local residents aims to ensure that the future use of the current Mullumbimby Hospital site is increased aged care facilities and services, housing for people with a disability, for women escaping domestic violence, social housing for vulnerable and disadvantaged..

Mullumbimby Hospital will become redundant in 2016 when the new Byron Central Hospital commences operation. The hospital and the community health centre will be demolished after asbestos materials are removed. The Department of Health intends to sell the site with the proceeds used to offset the cost of remediation according to the Hon J. Skinner MP Minister for Health (in letter to The Hon D. Page MP January 2015).

The NSW Health Administration Corporation currently holds the title to the land. The transfer from the Mullumbimby Hospital Reserve Trust was gazetted in October 2010. Prior to this, the land was Crown Land administered by the Mullumbimby Hospital Reserve Trust for over 100 years, from 1902.

MHAG is advocating that the land be transferred from the Department of Health to the Housing NSW in the Department of Family and Community Services, after the asbestos removal and demolition process has been completed We believe that ownership by the Department of Family and Community Services would facilitate the site being used for additional aged care facilities and services, housing for people with disabilities, women escaping domestic violence and social housing.

In the Northern Rivers region, especially Byron Shire, there is a dire need for safe, secure, affordable and appropriate housing for people at all different life stages – adolescence, young adult, families with children, women and young people escaping family violence, retirees and elderly people. At the same time increasing housing costs in Byron Shire, both home purchase and private rental, combined with the lack of public and non-government emergency, short term and long term housing is contributing to family and community breakdown. Older people and young people can no longer afford to live close to their communities, their family, their social networks and their health and service facilities and supports.

The adequate supply of appropriate affordable and social housing including aged care housing and facilities, in the Byron Shire, is a key infrastructure issue. The lack of supply is now affecting many socio-economic levels of our local community from working families and singles to the most disadvantaged in the Byron Shire

Moreover on Thursday September 17 2015, MHAG conducted a public meeting at the Mullumbimby Memorial Hall at which the 123 people who attended unanimously agreed to the use of the Mullumbimby hospital site for aged care and social housing. The meeting resolved that:

The Mullumbimby community demands that the Mullumbimby Hospital land be transferred from the NSW Minister for Health to the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services and Social Housing.

The Mullumbimby Hospital land then be used to develop a range of aged care facilities and services and housing options through public and community sector partnerships. This would be a win-win for everyone.

Any other proposal for the use of the Mullumbimby Hospital site is not supported by the community and is simply an expression of an individual’s, not the community’s, views.

Dr Michael Pelmore, Ross Tucker & Bev Kliger for MHAG

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