MEMBERS OF YACKANDANDAH Health, a community owned service provider in North East Victoria, are alarmed by plans to sell their community assets and services to Sydney based group Apollo Care.
Yackandandah Health primarily provides age care services through an 84-bed residential aged care facility with 10 independent living units and operates Little Yacks Learning Years early learning centre with 44 places.
The community owned site also hosts an independently operated medical centre serviced by five GPs and the Yackandandah Men’s shed.
Apollo Care is located in O’Connell Street, Sydney and describes itself as “an alliance of not-for-profit aged care communities”.
Apollo Care is a client of SAS Group, a government relations and media consultancy. Former National Party MP and Federal President, Larry Anthony is chairman and director.
SAS Group’s website says of Apollo Care:
Its innovative financial and operating model de-risks smaller, distressed, not-for-profit community and faith-based aged care facilities by taking on their care, governance, administrative and financial burdens.
On the Wednesday, 10 May at a public meeting the Board told members they had acquired funding from the federal government’s Structural Adjustment Fund (SAF). Members say they had to research what SAF funding was. The SAF fund ends on June 30, 2023.
The SAF aims to support providers to exit the market through transitioning ownership to a new approved provider or wind down operations in an orderly closure.https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/structural-adjustment-program#structural-adjustment-fund
Yackandandah Health members who spoke to No Fibs said they were aware of ongoing losses, but were stunned by the proposal to move control and ownership outside of the community.
At the meeting on the 10th of May the Yackandandah Health Board said they hadn’t communicated the dire situation earlier because they didn’t want people to panic.A Yackandandah Health member
Members and others in the community have told No Fibs they’re deeply concerned about the transfer of decision making control to Sydney. There is provision for the community to be consulted, but Apollo Care will have the decisive vote.
There is a view the sale, which includes a valuable land asset in the middle of town, is an unnecessary transfer of community wealth to private owners, which would also see future wealth leaving Yackandandah.
Decisions about the sale of land assets, sale of current services and changes to land and building uses will be made in Sydney, not in and by the Yackandandah community.
On Monday, 29 May the Board of Yackandandah Health announced an agreement with Apollo Care to assume control of Yackandandah Health.
A “community led meeting” held on Wednesday, 7 June asked the Board: What happens next if there is a ‘no’ vote to the resolution?
In all likelihood, Yackandandah Health would have to close down, putting 75 elderly residents and others who rely on our services at risk. If the proposal fails, the Board will consider its mandate has also failed. In that event, the directors will call for members of Yackandandah Health to nominate themselves as directors to join the Board.Yackandandah Health Board
Questions arising from the 7 June community meeting: Will the board make the agreement, conditions, terms, caveats, undertakings, and obligations on Apollo and Yackandandah Health Ltd available for public viewing? Will Apollo provide detail of how the deal benefits the community?
No. The company (and the Board) is bound by confidentiality and exclusivity provisions, which are normal for a transaction of this nature. Apollo has expressed a willingness to discuss their approach with the community and will answer questions from the community at a public meeting on 19 June 2023.Yackandandah Health Board
Apollo Care held their first public engagement session on Monday, 19 June. The deed of transition Yackandandah Health signed with Apollo Care which will be voted on by members on Wednesday, 21 June.
Yackandandah Health members told No Fibs they only found out about state of affairs in mid-April when it was communicated the Board were exploring options to become part of a bigger entity.
There is deep concern the sale will disrupt local GP services, doctors from the medical centre operating on the site told the Border Mail recently they would resign if “taken over by a national organisation“.
The medical centre serves both the community and the age care facility and there is a fear the loss of GPs in the town will impact local hospitals and local ambulance services if residents of the age care centre don’t have nearby local doctors.
Members are concerned about the fate of the Little Yacks early learning centre. There is concern the contractual obligations of Apollo Care to maintain services operating on the site are opaque and concern about potentially losing a child care service if the sale doesn’t go through.
“If it closes down it will be a disaster for people who use that service, because there’s long waiting lists elsewhere.”Ben McGowan as told to the Border Mail
The proposed sale is causing anxiety and uncertainty in Yackandandah.
Yackandandah is a hard working community with a strong community spirit and an economy that has been built over a long period of time. The Yackandandah Community takes good advice and borrows expertise from outside, but it works hard for its own benefit, building a community that people are proud to be a part of. Selling the best block of land and the most important services in town is not in keeping with our community culture; it is damaging to it.Yackandandah Health member
At a Special General Meeting tonight Yackandandah Health members will vote on the proposed sale of their community owned asset and services to Apollo Care.