Ku-ring-gai Meals on Wheels

Photo of Alister Henskens, Paul Fletcher and Meals on Wheels Bus
07 March 2017

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 12:58 :23 ): I speak in support of the work of Ku-ring-gai Meals on Wheels. At the weekend I was invited by the chief executive officer of our local Meals on Wheels, Ian Doyle, to attend their premises to celebrate the handover of a new refrigeration van. Those who attended included the Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and member for Bradfield, the Hon. Paul Fletcher; the Mayor of Ku‑ring-gai, Jennifer Anderson; Councillor Duncan McDonald; a director of the local Meals on Wheels, David Thompson; the President of the Roseville Chase Rotary Club, Peter Lewis; Rotary project leader Peter McKeown; and various Rotarians representing the Rotary Clubs that contributed to the purchase of the van. The following clubs contributed: Beecroft, Carlingford, Hornsby, Lindfield, Ku-ring-gai, Turramurra, St Ives, Wahroonga, West Pennant Hills and the Rotary Foundation.

The handover of the refrigeration unit occurred at the local Meals on Wheels office at 7 Gilroy Lane, Turramurra. Meals on Wheels is located in the geographical epicentre of the Ku-ring-gai State electorate which is also very close to the first home in which my family lived in our local area at 16 Gilroy Road. When I lived in that house 21 years ago I had my first interaction with Meals on Wheels, firstly, smelling the beautiful meals being prepared in the kitchen near our home and, secondly, our next door neighbour Ruth was a client of Meals on Wheels. We discovered that she was a client of Meals on Wheels when our cat, appropriately named Phantom, one day ate her Meals on Wheels dinner, which caused my wife to hastily prepare an alternative meal.

The refrigeration van acquired by a joint venture between the local, State and Federal governments, as well as the Rotarians, will enable Meals on Wheels to provide more than the 2,500 meals daily that it currently prepares. The van will permit the transportation of food from bulk storage in the Hornsby industrial area to the Turramurra kitchen. The van was acquired through a $26,000 grant from the Federal Government, which was about half of its cost, a generous donation by Ku-ring-gai Council, and contributions from each of the Rotary clubs, with monies that were matched by the Rotary Foundation. When there was still a shortfall I requested the Premier to give a grant to Meals on Wheels to make the final amount, and the Premier thankfully obliged my request.

Ku-ring-gai Council has been a great supporter of Meals on Wheels for a long time, including the provision of premises at a favourable rent. I also mention Councillor Duncan McDonald, who has been closely associated with Meals on Wheels as a director, and now Jennifer Anderson, the mayor, has taken over his position. But the Rotarians were the driving force of the van acquisition and this project was a great coming together of two great voluntary organisations—Rotary that does so much for our community and Meals on Wheels.

I am also happy to inform the House that the State Government is further supporting our local Meals on Wheels service with the recently announced more than $46,000 Community Building Partnership grant for a new walk-in refrigeration room. This refrigeration room will be a great benefit to our local Meals on Wheels service, not least because it will nearly cut in half the service's electricity bill, which will enable more money to be spent on front-line services. Ku-ring-gai Meals on Wheels is embedded in the fabric of our local community. The volunteer support service helps vulnerable residents stay in their homes, where most are happiest, by providing nutritious meals, social interaction and a friendly check on a client's wellbeing by its volunteers.

The service is inclusive across all socio-economic and cultural divides serving everyone from younger people with a psychological or physical disability to those older members of the community determined to stay independent for as long as possible. In addition, the service organises social events and arranges transport. The three services include: a meal, a safe wellbeing check and social cohesiveness. Many elderly or household people who are able to participate are encouraged to have their meal in a Meals on Wheels centre one day a week which allows them to meet other people, reduces social isolation and improves wellbeing. As the centre caters for special needs, such as pureed food and disabled access, it plays a vital and supportive role in our community.

The volunteers of Meals on Wheels and Rotary who work so hard for our community can never be adequately praised. In a time when people want to cause conflict and dispute in our society, our volunteer groups unite our community. By never being afraid to show that they care, Meals on Wheels brings our community together by looking after its vulnerable members. Thank you, Meals on Wheels, from a very grateful community.