30 May 2024

Kiama Council announces sale of Blue Haven Bonaira to Hall & Prior Aged Care Group

| Jen White
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Aerial view of Kiama.

Hall & Prior Aged Care Group will be the new owners of aged care facility, Blue Haven Bonaira. Photo: Kiama Council.

Hall & Prior Aged Care Group will be the new owners of Kiama’s Blue Haven Bonaira, ending a long-running saga which at times has divided the town.

Kiama Mayor Neil Reilly announced on Thursday (30 May) that the NSW and Western Australian group had won the tender for Bonaira.

In an extraordinary meeting of council on Monday (27 May), councillors voted to proceed with Hall & Prior’s offer and to begin drawing up a sales contract.

Hall & Prior was established in 1992 by Michael Hall and Graeme Prior, and has grown from a single family-owned nursing home to a leading Australian aged care provider, operating 13 residential aged care homes across Sydney and regional NSW and 23 aged care homes in Western Australia.

Cr Reilly said he was glad to see Blue Haven Bonaira would be acquired by a high-quality aged care provider.

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“I welcome Hall & Prior to Kiama and the Illawarra region and look forward to a fruitful working relationship with them as we transition the business into their capable hands,” he said.

The decision to sell Bonaira has been an ongoing and consuming issue for council since 2022.

In August last year, council called for expressions of interest from organisations who were interested in purchasing Blue Haven Bonaira.

At that time, Cr Reilly said the decision to sell Blue Haven Bonaira was an emotionally challenging one for all councillors.

“As difficult as it is, all councillors know that their decisions must ultimately seek to benefit the whole of the community in the long run,” he said.

“It’s our aim that, with a change in ownership, Blue Haven can continue to thrive and offer its residents the best care possible, while allowing the council to refocus its energies and resources directly on the broader community’s needs.”

In December last year, Councillor Kathy Rice unsuccessfully attempted to “pause” the tender selection process and have it reviewed by the NSW Local Government Minister.

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In response to Cr Rice’s motion to delay the sale, council CEO Jane Stroud was blunt about the financial necessity for council to sell Blue Haven Bonaira.

“To put it in the most rudimentary of terms, council borrowed $60 million, spent $105 million on construction and used over $20 million of internal reserves and cash to fund shortfalls in construction costs,” she said.

“Consequently, there is recurring cash shortfall, a drain on reserves (that forces council to dip into reserves) and repeated deficit annual budgets. That is the definition of an unsustainable financial model for any business and is the situation that requires immediate correcting.”

Once the contract between council and Hall & Prior has been finalised, it will go back to council for endorsement.

Following the final agreement and completion of pre-settlement conditions, both parties expect to settle in September.

Hall & Prior CEO Graeme Prior said the company was excited to bring its experience to the residents of Blue Haven Bonaira and associated services.

“Our dedicated commitment to providing quality aged care and accommodation is our priority,” he said.

“We are looking forward to being part of the Illawarra region and having a long-term relationship with Kiama Council and the local community.”

Council and Blue Haven will continue to update residents and staff about the sale and transition process.

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