In the beginning …
On the 3rd December 1971, the Aged Care Persons Homes Inaugural Minutes outlined how it was formed under the auspice of the Apex Club of Bridgetown Inc. This was with the intention of looking after the day to day running of the existing Apex Aged Person Homes in Nelson Street Bridgetown and plan for building of additional homes.
The committee’s first Chairman was Mr J Taylor with notables such as Messrs W. Moyes, M. Rayner, J. Fleeton, R. Polina and D.G. Ferris and extensive a community support network which invested considerable hours into creating and managing the emerging future of aged care in Bridgetown.
Some issues noted in those very first Minutes stated:
A tool shed was urgently needed but had to wait until the second block of units was completed.
A gardener - Mr. F.M. Brown was employed and his first job was to organise reticulation.
It would be two years before a public telephone could be installed and was then dependent on population needs. A coin operated one was adopted instead.
Roof drains and erosion issues were dealt with and laying of lawns and building retaining walls work commenced.
The Minutes of this dedicated Apex managed committee ceased on the 18th February 1981, when it appears they were negotiating with the newly created Geegeelup Village Incorporated to discuss the handover of the first Aged Care Units and all assets to the new organisation.
These same community Visionaries 2019:
A very positive public meeting was held in Bridgetown on 12th March 1979 to appoint a Steering Committee to carry out a survey of the future needs for frail aged care and other aged care accommodation in the town. This was due to the number of frail aged people residing in hospital or needing intense care at home as identified by the local GPs and Bridgetown Hospital Administration.
This public meeting was attended by dignitaries Hon Dave Evans MLA, Hon AA Lewis MLC and approximately 35 people from the local community. While support was offered, the community was encouraged to start fund raising as there was no funding available at the time.
On 19th March 1979, the nominated members of this Steering Committee met and selected their executive and members. These were:
Mr JW Oates – Chair
Mr WLH Doust - Vice Chair
Mrs J Wright – Secretary/Treasurer
Members: Dr WM Dewing; Miss NP Dixon; Mr G Henderson; Mr W Harkin; Mr N Holdsworth
A Survey Sub-committee was formed from the meeting comprising Mr Oates, Dr Dewing and Mrs Wright. Their brief was to organise a survey form for the next meeting. The survey was distributed widely throughout the shire, with Dr Dewing offering to analyse the results.
Once collated, the survey identified:
336 people over the age of 69 resided in the Shire;
18 in the frail aged range;
74 were in rented, 'loaned' or with the family. The remainder were in their own homes;
37 were over 80 year old group;
Of the 17 ‘independent’ people in the above group, ten were" just coping";
4 were unsuitably placed in A Class hospital beds;
3 requested accommodation ‘soon’.
The survey summary indicated the community had two needs:
Hostel accommodation for at least 30 but possibly closer to 50 persons in the frailer, older age range.
Unit accommodation for up to 30 people in the lower age range who did not have their own accommodation, or whose present accommodation was not suitable.
The hostel accommodation appeared to be the more urgent and by May 1986, the residents were moving in to the new 16 bed hostel. Over the next few months, there were a range of issues identified that needed sorting. In 2019, this would not be acceptable but the enthusiasm around the Opening was very evident in the Minutes over the next 12 months.
What stands out very strongly in these minutes from the 1970’s-2000’s was the intense commitment of so many people in the local community. Help from school children, farmers, orchardists, millers, local businesses, guides/scouts, in the form of small group raffles, card nights, donations, dances, timber royalties, film nights, right up to State and Federal support.
There was grassroots commitment showing through and some of the same names from the seventies are still involved in making sure Geegeelup Village Inc. is alive and well and continuing to expand.
This is a genuine, 'from the heart', community driven, community owned facility which provides a high standard of independent living accommodation options, frail aged accommodation and high care for those needing help in their later years.