House calls for seniors’ bus service

By Riverine Herald

SENIORS across Echuca are struggling to get to medical and specialist appointments and access community programs because of a lack of community transport.

Prompting Crossenvale Community House to push for a community transport bus in the town.

Co-ordinator Sheridan Clark said staff had been engaging with Redgum Centre residents, seniors and local services about the need for a seniors community transport service in Echuca.

‘‘It’s heartbreaking to know there are so many residents out there who are experiencing transport disadvantage and with one simple solution we can assist with this and also improve their lives for the better,’’ she said.

Ms Clark said the project aimed to deliver an affordable and beneficial community transport option to people experiencing transport disadvantage and provide door-to-door supported services for frail aged people, those who have a disability and their carers to stay independent and connected to the community.

‘‘We will provide transport to medical transport, taking clients to hospitals, doctors, dentists, specialists or services,’’ she said.

‘‘We also cater for the social aspect of clients’ needs who would like to visit community programs, churches, or nursing homes.

‘‘This program is very much needed in our community and we were shocked learning our community does not have this service for our seniors.’’

Ms Clark said Moama, with a population of 5559, had this service, while Echuca, which had 12,910 people, did not.

‘‘With 32 per cent of the population in Echuca being over 65, Echuca-Moama is a hotspot for retirees,’’ she said.

‘‘We know the increase of retirees to the area will increase the demand in needing more transport options for these seniors when they cannot access affordable and reliable transport in this area.

‘‘It also becomes an attraction for retirees to move to this area because of our resources around the ageing population.’’

As well as starting a petition, the Neighbourhood House has run online polls and carried out 107 surveys over the past two weeks.

A 64-year-old woman said: Doctors’ appointments don’t match with the bus timetable. I am either having to stay down the street for long periods of time or having to walk 6km into the CBD to my appointments. Each trip to get to the CBD can take around 30-45 minutes depending on the route.

A 66-year-old man said: We have two hours to get our errands done or we have to pay another $1.20 to access the bus again. I also have issues walking long distance and with not many stops for the buses in the CBD I am having to walk a long way to get to the doctors, chemist etc from where the bus drops me off.

A 71-year-old man said: Being blind makes transport very hard for me, it is impossible to use the local bus and too dangerous as I cannot see and would have to access this alone. I do not know where anything is to be able to manage to walk to my doctor’s appointments alone.

Ms Clark hopes the community will get behind the project.

‘‘If anyone is willing to volunteer to organise a fundraising event, could they contact us. We have also started applying for grants and funding to source a bus and funding to run the program,’’ she said.

The bus would run five days a week, from 9.30am to 4pm, delivered by volunteers rostered on each month.

Anyone who can help with the project can call Ms Clark at 54803583 or email [email protected]

—Ivy Jensen