The transport sub-committee of the Pambula Health Service Community Engagement Committee (PHSCEC) has developed several proposals that could do what bureaucrats have failed to do – provide a method of getting to and from the South East Regional Hospital (SERH) when a patient has no transport of their own.
It’s a new model with some borrowed ideas but it’s also about the community taking ownership and control of some of the problems that our bureaucrats wrestle with and fail to solve.
And to a large extent it is a solution whose time has come.
Public transport in rural areas is a luxury. The economics of running that type of business and the numbers game make it so.
However, in an ageing population, and here particularly where we have an older than average demographic, expecting everyone to be able to drive, at all times, is not realistic.
There are already a number of volunteers in the Bega Valley who provide great support for those requiring transport to medical appointments but the proposals being looked at now go a lot further to include anyone – who simply wants a life but doesn’t have a car.
Until the driverless car becomes everyday, this is a great option. Of course in the meantime we have to encourage people to use our existing bus services and particularly the Saturday services to and from the hospital.
So why not pool all those vehicles that sit idle for some parts of the day, marry them up with volunteer drivers and co-ordinate a truly community-oriented transport system through a central point such as council.
Around the shire there are mini-buses owned by clubs that may not be that busy during the day and it seems, through the good offices of Rotary, we have a number of volunteer drivers ready to help out.
Please don’t burden me with insurance and public liability questions – let’s just deal with it.
It works in Victoria where a trial of the ConnectU community transport system for the people of Warrnambool, Koroit and Port Fairy was extended.
The federal government is trying to encourage people to stay at home for longer but staying at home shouldn’t be a euphemism for being cut off from social activities and the rest of the community because that isn’t good for anyone’s health, which I think was the point where we started.
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