25 August 2023

Kiama Mayor says Blue Haven sale will benefit residents and community

| Neil Reilly
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Aerial view of Kiama.

Kiama Council has taken the next step to sell its aged care facility, Blue Haven Bonaira. Photo: Kiama Council.

This week Kiama Council announced a momentous step in the process of divesting Blue Haven Bonaira.

We have begun the sales process by calling for expressions of interest (EOI) from organisations that would like to put in a tender for the purchase of Blue Haven Bonaira. All parties will need to provide evidence within the criteria stipulated, that they qualify to be considered.

The EOIs will be assessed by a panel of experts (which does not include myself or any of the councillors), which will produce a shortlist of eligible candidates. The shortlisted organisations will then be invited to put in their tenders to purchase Blue Haven Bonaira. All candidates will need to be approved aged care providers.

Although it has been a long time coming and is something we’ve been talking about for more than 12 months, the EOI announcement was a big moment for all of us at Kiama Council.

The decision to sell our aged care operations located at Blue Haven Bonaira was an emotionally challenging one for all councillors. We not only recognise, but many of us also personally share, the deep connections this community has with Blue Haven.

I want to assure our community that this divestment is geared towards keeping the Blue Haven legacy alive. 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.

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.

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All that said, there is still a way to go before any change of ownership of Blue Haven Bonaira occurs. The reason the open, selective tender process involves so many steps is to ensure fairness, transparency and good governance.

It follows set criteria and is guided by probity lawyers and an independent sales agency.

That may all sound a little dry. But it’s important our community knows that we’re doing all we can to ensure this process is everything you would expect in terms of openness, legality, communication and care.

I want to reassure you that no one’s home will be lost. In fact, this process means that all Blue Haven’s residents and their homes can remain in our community while also allowing council to operate sustainably and equitably, well into the future.

I’d also like to assure you we have communicated constantly with those most closely affected by this proposed change – the residents, their families and friends, and our own staff who work at Blue Haven.

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This has taken the format of regular emails, eight face-to-face meetings chaired by the CEO, myself and the chief operating officer, five ‘Bonaira Banter’ sessions with our communications consultant where residents and families can ask questions and raise concerns, and have them addressed and answered, plus our quarterly Blue Haven newsletter/magazine.

We’ve also posted news and media releases on the council website and Blue Haven website as well as provided regular updates via social media.

I do acknowledge it’s an emotive issue and, once again, I’d like to invite anyone who wishes to discuss the matter to come and talk to me directly. You can either come into my office at the Council Chambers, or get in touch via phone or email.

I’m always happy to speak to our community members about this or any other issue that you’d like to bring to my attention.

Kiama Mayor Neil Reilly has represented the Kiama community as a councillor since 2008, including a year as deputy mayor.

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