Blue Haven Advisory Board members resign as Kiama Council looks to take control of its finances

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Kiama Municipal Council on the NSW South Coast is remodelling the advisory board to its aged care home Blue Haven and its Blue Haven Bonaira village of 59 independent living units in four buildings.

24 hours before this announcement, four of the seven members of the Blue Haven Advisory Board – Joanne Sabena, John Cleary, Richard Bailkowski and Pearl Forrester – resigned. Another board member Michael Forsyth resigned from the board on 11 May 2022. The two remaining members are Kiama Mayor Neil Reilly and Councillor Kathy Rice.

As we reported in April, the Council decided to offload the aged care facilities as they were financially unviable – Blue Haven Bonaira has a debt of $28.6 million. The following month, it overturned its own decision.

On 10 June, the Council said the Blue Haven Advisory Board would become a sub-group of its Audit Risk and Improvement Committee (ARIC).

“As Council is the Approved Provider of Blue Haven’s services, it makes sense to use our preeminent committee, ARIC, to oversee Blue Haven,” said Kiama Council and Blue Haven CEO Jane Stroud.

The ARIC meets this week and is likely to propose a model where Blue Haven’s Chief Operating Officer chairs the sub-committee and reports to ARIC and to Council.

“Kiama has run a successful ARIC model since 2017. And this could be a good opportunity to bring collaboration and oversight of Blue Haven into the remit of our highly experienced ARIC,” said the CEO, who had previously proposed selling off the two facilities to protect Council’s finances.

The Council has completed the first round of community consultation to explore options for its aged care business Blue Haven Illawarra.