17.1 C
Byron Shire
March 31, 2023

Feros – built on care and respect but that ethos is long gone

Latest News

Is polluting a lake in a national park to support new housing ok?

From Byron Bay to Evans Head to Casino the questions about how we deal with what is politely termed ‘effluent’, and how that may or may not destroy our local environment, demand real and urgent answers.

Other News

Cooler year ‘reprieve’ but trends continue, says Australia’s Environment Report

The latest annual report on the state of Australia’s environment has suggested that 2022’s higher than average rainfall could provide “a reprieve” for Australia and better enable it to cope with the forecast 2023 dry spell.

Dispatches from the polling booths

The political pendulum always swings, sometimes quite savagely, knocking out MPs. The late swing to Labor was detected a few days before the election by Newspoll.

Goodbye to an inspiring scientist, activist and friend

Mary’s influence on me as a local activist, and later councillor, was profound – she opened my eyes to how water courses through and shapes this place.

Drill Hall / Fun / Repeat

Experienced Director and theatre worker, Susan Melhuish, is bringing Mark Ravenhill’s politically charged Shoot/ Get Treasure/ Repeat to the Drill Hall Theatre for three nights as part of the Company’s free Member Nights. Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat opened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007 co-produced by The National Theatre, Gate Theatre and Royal Court Theatre.

$200k in grants available for local not-for-profits

The inGrained Foundation has announced a $200,000 funding pool for the 2023 Northern Rivers Large Grants Program, opening this April.

We’re coming to cycle

Our small cycling group is headed your way (20-24 March) to experience the newly-opened Northern Rivers Rail Trail and...

Happier days at Feros Village Byron Bay who have just evicted 40 residents from the community donated and funded Byron Bay site. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Feros Care began as a beloved local Byron charity with a simple mission to provide affordable, dignified aged care. But changes to welfare funding has seen Feros ‘professionalise’ and transform into a collection of charitable enterprises with revenues of $107 million, a flashy head office in Coolangatta, a Brisbane based Chair and a bevy of ‘key management personnel’ costing $2.17 million.

Feros Care CEO, Karen Crouch. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Feros keeps expanding. Their new CEO styles herself a ‘disrupter’. She says she was attracted to work for Feros because they are ‘edgy and ambitious… and like me believe the status quo is never good enough’.

Sun Tzu attack

A few months ago this unrecognisable, ‘edgy’ Feros decided to redevelop the two hectare prime real estate that had been acquired and developed by the citizens of Byron for their old folk.

It was as if they wargamed their attack, following Sun Tzu’s proverbial advice that enemies are best ‘lured into an ambush and slain’.

And my goodness, they pulled it off brilliantly.

Colin McJannett is been Deputy Chair of the Feros Board and has been a member since 2017. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Secret preparations

The security around their secret preparations was at a level Vladimir Putin can only dream of. No signalling your attack by blundering in with a column of half fuelled tanks. This was precision planning by Feros, the residents never saw them coming.

It launched at 6.58pm when a Feros executive based in Coolangatta pressed send on an four sentence email giving notice of an ‘important meeting’ next day.

As Feros know, many residents like the two aged over 100 don’t even have email. Everyone was preparing for bed with no idea their whole world was already upended.

The cone of silence had held!

Kate Smorty is one of the residents affected by the Feros Board’s decision. Photo Eve Jeffery

Not your home

The bombshell dropped at 11am the next morning by the CEO who likes to ‘disrupt for a purpose’. She announced the Board’s decision to close the facility for redevelopment; everyone has to leave; and Feros can legally evict all of you with two weeks notice. But we are going to allow time to properly relocate you.

The Coolangatta executive who had sent the meeting notice had been foreshadowed to address residents. But the pandemonium triggered saw him carefully recede back into the shadows. He must have been grateful the shock and distress made everybody forget him and his speech.

Lynn Warneke has been a Director of the Feros Board since 2020. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Kristofer Rogers has been a Director of the Feros Board since 2021. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Janet Quigley has been a Director of the Feros Board since 2020. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Janelle Mander has been a Director of the Feros Board since 2022. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Dr Kathy Heathcote has been a Director of the Feros Board since 2021. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Andrew Young has been a Director of the Feros Board since 2019. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Feros Care Chairman, Jason Bingham. Photo www.feroscare.com.au

Slinking away

He wasn’t the only vanishing act. The Board who approved this secret plan have been conspicuously absent. Even those who live in Byron failed to attend and witness the horrendous impacts upon residents of their decisions.

Feros’ predatory actions have outraged residents’ families and risks the wrath of an entire community. Byron Bay citizens are stunned by this news because Feros is supposed to be their treasured charity and this appalling behaviour has come as a total surprise.

This is a region traumatised and fed up with disasters, mistreatment and the housing crisis. We are fed up with swaggering Goliaths crushing the peace and wellbeing of our neighbours. I hope and believe we have got the residents backs. This surprise attack on elderly residents is not something we can or should tolerate.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Shameful. Sadly there is much evidence of psychological and emotional abuse of the elderly and other vulnerable groups in our country.
    Once the money becomes key focus, it seems care and respect , the values of an org dissolve . I don’t understand?

    • I agree Liz, furthermore could suggest that the executive group has been led into group thinking by an unfeeling and remote mentality… whom are they there to serve and better, methinks only one of two possibilities, the souless lifeless organisation (maybe they are going to turn it into something for profit?) thats very existence is to serve the residents? or themselves?… one of the two is the only possible endgame.

  2. I can’t imagine how distressing this is for the residents involved but in the interests of fairness I’d also like to hear from the board and any explanation they might have to offer. Has anyone thought to give them a right of reply or is this to be all about naming and shaming?

    • It’s Crown land leased to Feros – it’s covered in caveats and going to take years along with the DA for them to get development approvals. It was unnecessary to evict the residents now.

  3. These are the same people who were responsible for the Health and Wellbeing of their Clients. Whom failed in their Duty of Care, as per the Royal Commission.
    The Echos’ report dated the 15th., February, 2023.
    Whist the Commission does not utilise the terms I have, Duty of Care; it is glaringly obvious that such is the case, to this author. Acknowledging all three replies, validating same accordingly, I do support Liz Fritz’s comments. The CEO, an RN who made the statement, the “status quo is never good enough”. Indeed it is not with this CEO, and or the Board.
    I would that the good people’s of Byron Bay, do challenge this innocuous, outrageous contempt of their Elderly Families, with strength and courage.

  4. George Feros would be spinning in his grave.
    I always suspected the management driving around town in expensive cars where not focused on caring for people who stay there.

  5. This is terrible news as where these residents will go is very limited. Visit any local hospital and they are full of people waiting for nursing home placement. The average length of stay in hospitals is in the weeks now, not just because of medical reasons but they have no where else to live. Many are flood affected and can’t return home and placements are extremely rare. I worked for Feros and it was all about the marketing definitely not care.

  6. ABC News covered this issue on last nights (12/3/23) nightly news.
    Nice touch that journalist / presenter of the story Bruce Mackenzie referenced his connection back to when he was a youngster on the North Coast.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Appeal to locate man last seen at Casino on way to Tweed

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man from Grafton missing from the North Coast area.

Do you still need help to get two rooms fixed after the 2022 flood?

More than 80 Lismore residents have had help getting a few rooms in their flood-impacted homes re-sheeted and habitable following the devastating 2022 floods.  The...

$15,000 fine and warnings over illegal logging in Kyogle Shire

Urbenville-based logging company Rojech Pty Ltd were fined $15,000 earlier this month over logging operations near the entrance to the Border Ranges National Park in Kyogle Shire.

No street gathering policy for Ballina Shire

A majority of Ballina Shire councillors have voted against a Greens-led motion for a new policy enabling resident-led street closures for gatherings and play.