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September 25, 2023

D-Day at Byron Feros Village aged care facility – residents remain in place for now

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Byron Bay Feros Village vigil at Marvel Hall on 18 July, 2023. Photo Jeff Dawson

The final ten residents had been told by Feros Care that they needed to be out of the Feros Village Byron Bay by yesterday, 18 July. Last night Feros residents, family members, and the community came together to hold a ‘vigil’ at Marvel Hall to mark the day.   

Mark Swivel speaking at the Byron Bay Feros Village vigil at Marvel Hall on 18 July, 2023. Photo Jeff Dawson

The residents have been clear that they will not be moving out of their home and at 5pm yesterday Feros lawyers Minter Ellison advised the residents lawyer (and Byron Shire Councillor) Mark Swivel that ‘no one would be evicted and services would continue “but not indefinitely”.’

Essentially the residents are ‘okay’ but this leaves them in ‘limbo’ Mr Swivel told The Echo

‘I have advised them of the risks to health and safety. Families and community members are committed to making sure all residents are looked after.’

The site where the Feros Village is built is crown land that is owned by the state government and dedicated to ‘homes for the aged’. Residents, their families and the community have clearly demonstrated that they want the village to remain open.

‘The detail is complex but the various government stakeholders – Crown Land, the Minister for Lands and Property and the Federal Aged Care minister – could intervene to keep the village open, either by negotiating with or directing the operator to do so, or brokering the transfer to another provider,’ explained Mr Swivel. 

Byron Bay Feros Village vigil at Marvel Hall on 18 July, 2023. Photo Jeff Dawson

Free land for Feros

‘Feros have had the property, without paying a cent in rent, for 36 years. The village should remain in community hands. Feros can keep it that way or let someone else do it.’

According to Feros Care they have to redevelop the site as ‘the home now needs to meet the more stringent requirements of nursing home standards’.

Mr Swivel says that the Feros board have invoked ‘Ageing in place’ obligations as the reason for closing.  

‘But this is a policy aspiration not a specific legal obligation,’ he told The Echo

‘The royal commission findings endorse places like Feros Village Byron Bay – a small scale, non-institutional home. 

‘Feros are making a commercial decision – preferring to invest in a redevelopment of the site rather than the maintenance of a place that is an example to the industry.’

Byron Bay Feros Village vigil at Marvel Hall on 18 July, 2023. Photo Jeff Dawson

No plans 

Speaking at the vigil last night former magistrate David Heilpern said he had done a deep dive into the annual and charities reports etc of Feros Care

‘There was nothing in any of those reports suggesting there were any problems with Byron Feros Village. There was no mention of any plans, no references to architects, no site plans. It was all a rosy picture,’ he told The Echo.

‘You would have thought that if there was a chronic, established problem with Byron Feros Village that it would have been flagged in some of these reports.’

It is understood that the majority of the Feros board members are not from the local area and hail from places like Brisbane, Canberra, and Melbourne. Your average board member is paid a base rate of $15,000 per annum with extra payments for any additional responsibilities, while the chair receives $30,000 a year. 

Residents staying

Mr Swivel told The Echo that, ‘The ten residents are now determined to stay for three reasons. First, because they love where they live and know it is a good and safe place to live. Second, because they have been treated badly, and have lost confidence and trust in Feros. Third, because there is no alternative accommodation for them that is suitable and affordable. 

‘There is a shortage of places across the region. In the end, the community here and across the country needs more aged care places and not less. The sector is in strife as closure shows around Australia but this is a good example of how aged care needs to be managed and regulated so that community needs come before the commercial preferences of operators.

‘If Feros had provided 12 months notice, shared approved development plans and delivered proactive support to residents this dispute would not have happened,’ said Mr Swivel. 

‘Let’s not forget, there is no development application let alone an approval in place for the redevelopment of this site.’

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  1. Well done to the ten residents for staying put in their home. Sad times when the elderly are being bullied into leaving. Pity all the residents didn’t stay put.

  2. All power to the Feros residents and their families and supporters.
    I hope it is possible that the present non local board members can be stood aside and a new board comprised of local people be appointed.

  3. All power to the Feros residents and lets welcome back those frail elders who have been heavily pressured to leave. Also thanks to Mark and David for giving a very clear picture of the options, lack of same and legalities and responsibilities. Thanks to Aslan, The Echo, for clear and concise information that gives the concerned Public a much clearer picture on the plight of Feros Village.
    The Management committee ..or local Board members have made a huge mistake in violating the Rights of Elders and imagining that the community would lie down and pave the way for the grubbiest approach EVER to aid future Development. If the State Government have no solution to this vile plight…..Byron Council has THE POWER TO REJECT FUTURE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES.
    Will another strategy eg. secret meetings at Council prepare to go further eg. The Land and Environment Court?
    Our family have buried two Elders recently (one 102 another 100 years of age) cared for deeply …thank God they were not subjected to Feros attitudes. Shameful, cruel, bullying and lacking any glimpse of humane qualities! We can do better.


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