WITH the giant Brookfield Multiplex crane in place, the community was invited to the site of the South East Regional Hospital in Bega on Friday.
The community afternoon attracted hundreds of people, some coming to get their first proper glimpse of the site and others to find out about the job opportunities during construction which will employ up to 1700 over the next two years.
At an official ceremony on the late afternoon, representatives from Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) and Southern NSW Medicare Local (SNSWML) were joined by current and former health professionals to acknowledge the history of bringing a state-of-the art regional hospital to the Bega Valley.
Sharon Perry, speaking on behalf of her father Yuin elder Clifford Thomas, gave a Welcome to Country and also presented a painting to Jan Aveyard from SNSWLHD to be hung in the foyer of SERH in 2016.
The painting is entitled The Healing Place by Eden-based artist Jo Stewart
Also present was Member for Bega Andrew Constance who spoke about the importance of the hospital to the area.
“This building is a shock to the community in some respects in its size and ambition,” he said.
“It brings to the area the health services that we are entitled to.
“It’s a first for a community that has had to shoulder the burden of constantly travelling to receive services that should be based right here, and come 2016, will be.
“Come Monday when the construction begins, this marks the start of a big change for this community.”
“I look forward to seeing you all back here for the opening in May 2016, hopefully if the weather is kind to us maybe a little bit earlier!”
A representative from Brookfield Multiplex, regional director Laurie Foy, spoke at the official opening of the site to inform the community of the various stages the building project will take.
Before the official formalities many people visited the site find out about job opportunities.
Campbell Page, Hunter Valley Training Company, Aboriginal Land Council and the Industry Capability Network were all on site to speak with job seekers and take resumes.
Representatives from TAFE Illawarra were also there to speak with interested people about training and careers related to the construction project.
A spokesperson from Campbell Page said people had begun arriving well before the 2.30pm start to inquire about job placement.
Employee agencies such as Campbell Page will be working with Brookfield Multiplex and its contractors to fill positions in the coming months.
Refreshments on the afternoon were provided by the ladies of the Bega District Hospital Auxiliary who fundraise tirelessly for hospital equipment and will continue to do so once the SERH is built.
Running a barbecue at the community day were volunteers from Community Carers Accommodation South East (CCASE).
CCASE has been allocated land on the SERH site by SNSWML to build a carer and relatives accommodation facility.
“Families of patients need somewhere to stay as they often travel long distance to access the hospital,” CCASE chairperson and president of Pambula Rotary Jan Koerbin.
“It’s not part of the budgeted hospital construction, so local service clubs are joining together to make it happen.
“This accommodation on the SERH site is based on similar facilities like Rotary Lodge at Port Macquarie hospital and Hilltop at Albury.
“It’s a community led project for the benefit of the community.”
CCASE is made of various service groups from the Bega Valley including the Rotary Clubs of Pambula, Bega and Merimbula, Lions Club of Merimbula, Eden Lionesses and the CWA.
Ms Koerbin said more local service clubs are coming on board as the fundraising builds momentum.
CCASE hopes to have stage 1 open with the hospital in 2016 and build additional cottage style accommodation in the years following.
For more information about CCASE look for Community Carers Accommodation SE on Facebook.
For more on SERH visit www.serh.org.au.