Elderly lose out in RSL NSW donations ban

Thank you all: Auditor Ricquel Morgan of Kellow Parbery & Associates, with Bimbimbie Auxiliary committee members Jemma Elliott, Sue Jones and Jenny Yates.
Thank you all: Auditor Ricquel Morgan of Kellow Parbery & Associates, with Bimbimbie Auxiliary committee members Jemma Elliott, Sue Jones and Jenny Yates.

More than $80,000 destined for the elderly of Bimbimbie has been given away to other worthy causes because the aged care home owner, RSL Lifecare, is unable to accept donations.

On Monday, November 5, the Bimbimbie Retirement Village Auxiliary held a final afternoon tea at the aged care facility with volunteers and supporters, saying farewell to 43 years of voluntary work.

The ban on donations followed issues between RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare at a state level, in particular, poor governance and potential conflicts of interest. A public inquiry headed by former Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin, uncovered a decade of “sheer ineptitude and cronyism” relating to the misuse of funds.

The result was that the Bimbimbie Op Shop, fundraising stalls and raffles could no longer operate. Even running the weekly bingo became difficult as volunteers could no longer offer free tea and chocolates.

President of the auxiliary Jenny Yates said that funds raised were used for the residents’ benefit, particularly those in the lodge, subsidising lunches when they went out, or paying for ice creams.

“We used to give Christmas presents to those in the lodge, but were told we couldn’t provide anything that was classed as a donation,” Ms Yates said.

There had been much larger items too with the installation of garden beds and fish tanks. 

Running the op shop became problematic as the committee could no longer accept donations. Instead the inventive auxiliary went to car boot sales and purchased items to sell on. This became too difficult and with the loss of a key member of the committee and a shortage of volunteers to take over, the auxiliary reluctantly decided it had to cease operating.

At the time of winding up, there was more than $80,000 in the account. It was decided to distribute the money to Merimbula Ambulance Auxiliary ($50,000), the carers accommodation at SERH ($20,000), Merimbula Rural Fire Service ($5000), Tathra Bushfire Appeal ($5000) and Merimbula Public School ($5000). The remainder, close to $7000 was donated to the Anglican Parish. The funds were audited by Kellow Parbery & Associates.

At the afternoon tea for volunteers and supporters, which the committee had to provide right down to the cups for tea and serviettes, Ms Yates thanked everyone “for their support, effort and time over 43 years”.

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