The conversations of life

Churches & charities fill the aged care cracks


Yesterday an Australian record was set in the purchase price for a terrace house (row house) – $13 million, six million higher than the last record price for that style of house.

Its location is Potts Point in Sydney, adjacent to the infamous Kings Cross red light district.

A tale of two cities 

Only one kilometre away, diagonally on the other side of Kings Cross, is the suburb of Darlinghurst. Last month, St Johns, the local Anglican Church, and not-for-profit aged care operator HammondCare, announced they are going to build a five story/50 bed aged care facility for the homeless on absolutely prime Darlinghurst real estate.

Artist’s impression of Hammondcare’s proposed Darlinghurst development – Victoria Road view.

St Johns could have leased or sold the land and made a killing. HammondCare could invest its cash in another suburb and market that would maximise its income. Neither did. Both elected to help people in real need over making money.

This is a city story that is normally only told in the country but it is story we should all take time to reflect on.

Who looks after the ageing Australians on the fringes? It’s the church and charitable organisations – and there are a significant number of them doing this every day.

The authority in the facts and figures of the ageing sector is accounting firm StewartBrown. Their June 15 quarterly benchmarking report identifies that 26.5 per cent of care operators made a loss over the past three months of operation and most of these are in ‘remote’ locations where the number of people needing care support is few, making their individual bed cost high.

In fact each ‘remote’ bed lost an average of $26 a day. Even in bigger country towns, care homes only made an average of $5.60 a day or $2,044 per year per bed. Imagine running a high service hotel 24/7 to make just $2,000 a year per room?

My point? As Australians we are proud of our heritage of a ‘fair and just’ society that looks after our fellow citizens. The reality is it is the goodwill of the churches and charities that fill the aged care crack.

The proposed development at 118A Victoria Street, Darlinghurst

Footnote: HammondCare was established in 1932 as Hammond’s Pioneer Homes by Anglican Archdeacon R B S Hammond. He did this in response to the eviction of inner-city, rent-paying families in Sydney during the depression. These families were provided with homes through a rent-purchase program on land now known as Hammondville, near Liverpool (approximately 40 kilometres from central Sydney). To make this project work, R B S Hammond contributed his personal savings as well as earning support from the general public.

Chris Baynes is a columnist and publisher of Frank & Earnest. He is also the publisher of, the leading national directory of retirement villages and aged care services in Australia.

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