Seniors sidelined

SENIORS were given just a few days’ notice about the cancellation of fitness, food and social services at the Rod Evans Senior Citizens Centre in East Perth.

After the abrupt cancellation less than two weeks before Christmas, services were shifted to the Citiplace centre at the Perth train station.

But Irene Peart, who’s taken her disabled husband to the RESCC for four years, say the new space is smaller, cluttered, and poorly organised: often they’ve shown up and the advertised sessions haven’t been on.

“It’s totally thrown so many people’s social activities out,” she says.

“It was a very big part of many peoples’ lives.”

• Irene Peart and her senior friends with Perth MP John Carey at the Rod Evans Senior Citizens Centre. Photos by Steve Grant

Ms Peart says she could park directly behind the Rod Evans centre, making it easy to get her husband inside, but at Citiplace she has to park further away and hope that the temperamental elevator’s working.

She says the old location was ideal because it has lots of elderly people living nearby.

“To the left of the Rod Evans centre is a two-storey high block of units that is all aged people who used to go across to the centre for their meals every day,” she says.

“Some of them struggle to get to Citiplace: some have to get meals on wheels instead, so they lose that social aspect.”

Behind the RESCC is a high care facility.

“They’d come across for bingo or meals,” Ms Peart says, but they have little hope of making the trek to the new spot.

“Some of them just can’t cope with the crowded train station.”

Ms Peart says seniors phoned the Perth council on several occasions, but were unable to get answers about why the centre had been moved and why they’d received so little notice.

“The very first we heard of it was December 15, it was a Wednesday, and at the end of a class we’d been attending we were told the centre was closing down, and there would be a meeting advising us why on the Friday morning,” she says.

“And of course a lot of us like myself couldn’t get to that meeting, because it was only 48 hours’ notice.

“The manager who was very caring, who knew everyone’s name, she just disappeared.

“I don’t know if it was her choice or if she was stood down.”

Perth Labor MP John Carey says “this just paints another picture of a city that is out of touch with its residents and it deeply concerns me.”

“Why would you shift all the seniors services to Citiplace at the railway station?” he says.

“There’s a large number of seniors living in East Perth.

“Why is the City of Perth doing this and why hasn’t it explained its position?”

He’s hopeful once they see people are willing to speak up the city will change its stance.

“Sometimes the City of Perth has to be dragged kicking and screaming because it doesn’t understand community engagement,” Mr Carey told the Voice. 

“We should be looking after our seniors. We need a city for all, that caters for everyone and not just the hipsters.

“I love the hipsters, but we need to cater for everyone: young people, old people, and families.”

Perth council media officer Michael Holland didn’t respond to our queries, making it 18 months since he last got back to us.

by DAVID BELL

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