Official celebrations at Stretton Park Aged Care on Wednesday marked the completion of Stage 2 of the Stretton Park Aged Care Redevelopment Project.

The almost $2 million Stage 2 redevelopment includes upgrades to the Maffra not-for-profit community aged care facility’s café and 17 resident rooms and bathrooms, with the three-stage $7 million Stretton Park Aged Care Redevelopment Project now one step closer to completion.

Stage 1 of the Stretton Park project included the redevelopment of 12 resident suites and the construction of four new suites.

The Deputy Government Whip, Senator Raff Ciccone, and Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, who secured 50 per cent federal funding for Stage 2 of the redevelopment works, joined Stretton Park’s board of management, residents and Central Gippsland Health staff for the official grand opening event.

Central Gippsland Health director of aged care Caron Mallet, Deputy Government Whip Senator Raff Ciccone and Chair of Stretton Park Board Helen Montague. Photos: Zoe Askew

Mr Chester’s involvement with Stretton Park dates back to 2020.

The Stretton Park board of management and the Maffra community raised more than $4 million in 2020 to begin the Stretton Park Aged Care Redevelopment Project.

However, an additional $2 million was needed to fund all three project stages.

After meeting with representatives from Stretton Park’s community committee and representatives from Central Gippsland Health to discuss the next steps, in June 2020, Mr Chester announced that Stretton Park would receive $1 million through the federal government’s Building Better Regions Fund.

The federal government’s Building Better Regions Fund provided funding for half of the expenses of stage 2 of the Stretton Park Aged Care Redevelopment Project.

After Wednesday’s official opening of improved facilities, Mr Chester paid tribute to Stretton Park Aged Care volunteer board members and staff.

“The team at Stretton Park has done an amazing job to deliver a high standard of care and a major building program in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Chester said.

“This $2 million improvement will ensure Stretton Park meets the standard of care that people expect in years to come.”

Mr Chester with Stretton Park resident Pauline Jones.

Honorary guest at Stretton Park’s Stage 2 grand opening, Senator Raff Ciccone, said the collaboration between the federal government and Stretton Park was a good example of how governments can work with organisations to produce positive outcomes for the community.

“The Australian government contributed $854,563 to this project, funded through the $1.38 billion Building Better Regions Fund Program, and of course, the other 50 per cent of the funding was contributed by Stretton Park,” Senator Ciccone said.

“As Stage 2 of a three-stage project, it’s great to see upgrades already benefiting residents and the community.”

The project included the refurbishment of 16 single-resident bedrooms that will be compliant to contemporary aged care standards, the construction of 16 ensuites, the installation of air-conditioning to stage 2 areas, an office extension and café alterations.”

The Deputy Government Whip, Senator Raff Ciccone.

Senator Ciccone said Stretton Park’s redevelopments provide improved living and working conditions for both residents and staff.

“It was great to see this in person today,” Senator Ciccone said.

“I know the team here does a fantastic job, and Stretton Park has been serving the Maffra and district community for more than 30 years. But it’s important that residents, families, community groups and staff have the benefit of a modern facility, and that’s what this project is all about.

“We know that it’s much better for local families to be able to send their loved ones here than suffering the emotional and financial hardship of using an out-of-town aged care facility.”

Senator Ciccone said one particularly important part of this project was the construction of the multipurpose community space.

“I hope this can reduce the distance – both literally and figuratively – between residents and staff at Stretton Park and everyone else who lives in Maffra,” he said.

“Too often, aged care facilities are silos that exist separately to the communities within which they operate, and I hope this new space can help connect residents and staff to the wider Maffra community.”

Stretton Park resident Joan Bosse and Stretton Park volunteer Margret Williams.

Almost 10 years since Stretton Park Aged Care revealed a comprehensive master plan to update its facilities, the Stretton Park Aged Care Redevelopment Project is just one stage away from completion.

While stage 3 plans are ready and waiting, the Maffra community-run aged care facility requires one final round of funding before work can begin.

Mr Chester has written to the Federal Minister for Aged Care seeking funding to complete the final stage of the project.

“The board advises me that a stage 3 redevelopment is ready to progress, but there is no capital works program for Stretton Park to seek matching Commonwealth funding”, Mr Chester said.

“If the new federal government is serious about improved access to aged care facilities, it would work with successful providers like Stretton Park to deliver the next stage of improvements.”