OLDER residents of Doreen and Mernda, in Melbourne’s north-east, are worried about their future.
The suburbs are home to about 5000 people aged 50 and over, a figure projected to increase by more than half over the next decade.
There is no aged care facility in the rapidly growing suburbs.
A splinter group of Doreen Seniors Club, called Spotlight on Aged Care – Doreen and Mernda, held a forum last September as part of their efforts to mobilise local, state and federal governments to begin planning a facility.
The group also collected more than 2000 signatures on a petition that federal Member for McEwen, Rob Mitchell, tabled in Parliament in October.
Mr Mitchell said the community had made it crystal clear there is a dire need for Doreen and the growing north.
Terri Mackenzie from Spotlight on Aged Care said she, like many others, had moved to Doreen because of what it offers to older and retired people.
“People tend to think that population growth out here is all about families relocating to larger homes, but many people, like me, moved here to downsize,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“And when we need aged care facilities and services, we don’t want to have to move away from the community we belong to.
“Moving into residential care is a major step. Separating people from their community in the process makes it even more traumatic.
“We started our campaign when Whittlesea Council asked residents to offer ideas about how they wanted their communities to look in 2040.
“We can’t wait another 20 years to build an aged care facility – we need one much sooner.”
Ms Mackenzie said Spotlight on Aged Care would like to see more proactive support from Whittlesea Council, given that between 2017 and 2037 the largest percentage growth within the shire will be among the 85 and over service groups, with an increase of 186 per cent.
“Council tabled our petition but we’re not sure where to from here,” she said.
“The first thing we need is suitable land. We had hoped that council might be able to help us identify land that could be earmarked for the development.
“But they’ve told us they can’t help us there, so we’re looking at other possibilities.”
Visit the Spotlight on Aged Care Mernda and Doreen Areas Facebook page for information or to join the group.