COMMUNITY transport options were clarified last week when South Gippsland Shire Council’s Transport Connections Committee met with community members at Foster, Leongatha and Korumburra.
Approximately 30 residents attended the session held at the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre on Tuesday July 10 to hear speakers from South Gippsland Shire Council, Westernport Road Lines and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The South Gippsland Transport Connections project is a three-year government funded scheme aiming to increase access and mobility within and between communities by more efficient use of current transport services and by encouraging the community to participate in the transport decision making process.
Attendees at the sessions were encouraged to voice their concerns regarding transport options and to share with council any confusion over how to avail themselves of these services.
To help alleviate any confusion and to make options more widely known, South Gippsland Shire Council and South Gippsland Transport Connections have made available a new booklet entitled ‘Public & Community Transport Services in South Gippsland‘ available at news agents Foster, Toora, Port Welshpool, Welshpool and later at medical centres and council offices
Transport Connections Co-ordinator, Fred Boreham and Shire Community Service Manager, Sara Cox, explained that discussion regarding community transport between residents and council is vital and that council is appreciative of feedback as it needs to know what is needed so that confusion can be clarified and issues can be taken on board and rectified.
Highlighted during the session was the issue that many residents have little knowledge of community transport services due to the lack of advertising. Those already receiving Home and Community Care services would be aware of existing services, but it was suggested that advertising perhaps in the form of flyers at local medical centres, the South Gippsland Hospital and Community Health Centre would help the services to become more widely known.
South Gippsland Shire Council has four Community cars in total within the district, with one car available in Foster. This service is provided as part of the Home and Community Care Program (HACC) to those people in the community who do not drive and are unable to access other means of transport to attend medical appointments (including dental and optical etc.) outside of their own town.
This personalised service is manned by volunteer drivers who assist passengers with entering/exiting vehicles, with seating and seatbelts and who make the trip to hospital appointments less daunting by ensuring that passengers find their way within the building.
The South Gippsland Shire Council has three Community buses in total, including one in Foster, with each wheelchair-friendly bus seating eight to ten passengers. For those assessed by HACC as being eligible, there are regular bus services from Meeniyan to Leongatha and return allowing passengers to shop and attend the Senior Citizens Club. All clients are picked up at their homes. There is a modest cost for this service which runs every Friday. For further information contact the Community Programs Team Leader on 5662 9359.
A Community bus service to Port Welshpool and Leongatha is available on the third Friday of each month for those assessed as eligible by HACC, with a modest fee charged. Stops on the journey are at the towns of Welshpool, Toora, Port Franklin and Foster.
A similar service between Fish Creek, Walkerville, Sandy Point and Yanakie was discontinued due to a lack of patronage, however if council receives enough expressions of interest, re-establishment of the service would be considered.
Those assessed as eligible by HACC assessors can also attend Hoy sessions at Welshpool Hall on the first Tuesday of every month for a small fee. Passengers are picked up at their homes and stops are made for visiting or shopping at Foster, Bennison, Port Franklin, Toora, Agnes and Port Welshpool. For further information on the Port Welshpool – Leongatha trips or the Hoy social day activity, contact the Community Programs Team Leader on 5662 9363.
Visit www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au click on ‘Council Services’ in left hand side menu, then click on ‘Home and Community Care’ to find further information or simply call the Council on 5662 9200 and ask for Community Services.
The Shire’s min-bus, located in Foster – along with the two based in Leongatha – each carry ten passengers plus driver are available for hire by non-for-profit community groups within the shire. These buses are user-friendly for wheelchair users and with a lowered step and handrails are also suitable for use by older persons.
The mini-bus must be collected during working hours on Monday to Friday and can be booked by calling the council on 5662 9359. This service does not come with a driver – and to be eligible to drive the bus, the driver must be over 25, hold a current driving license, not have had drink or drug related convictions in the five years and have not been refused vehicle insurance.
Red Cross cars
Foster’s Red Cross Car is only available for travel to urgent medical treatment in Gippsland and Melbourne and a referral from a medical practitioner (or health professional) is required. To meet the criteria, passengers must be unable to use any public or community transport; are unable to drive themselves; do not have access to a vehicle or driver; cannot afford to use a taxi; or cannot travel unaccompanied.
The car is available to residents of Fish Creek, Foster, Sandy Point, Toora and Welshpool areas. The service is provided free of charge but donations are welcome.
For further information and full conditions call the Red Cross Transport Co-ordinator on 0467 778 740. The Inverloch Red Cross car is also available to residents of South Gippsland Shire. Call 0419 107 398 for further information.
V/Line bus service
Alan Adcock of Westernport Road Lines said during his presentation that as contractors for V/Line in the area, the company runs 60 vehicles within Gippsland and now has the full complement of eight very comfortable coaches – six on the Yarram to Melbourne route and two running between Phillip Island and Koo-Wee-Rup.
This very popular service is the largest rail replacement service in the state of Victoria and in the twelve months since beginning its V/Line operations on July 1 last year, 149,000 tickets have been sold. The company is proud of its safety record and welcomes feedback on its services.
Alan clarified the duration of tickets for day returns and one way journeys to Melbourne and the methods of using them for free travel in zones one and two on trams, trains and buses.
Tickets can be organised on-line, but Alan recommended that it is preferable for both the customer and operator to buy the ticket prior to travel. Pulhams’ Furniture and Carpets of Foster is a V/Line agent and can supply travellers with either single or return tickets in advance – which is a great time-saver when it comes to getting on the bus.
Michael Mihaly of the Department of Veterans Affairs had some very useful tips for those who are existing or prospective DVA clients and explained that DVA have transport options available for both existing and prospective clients – who can visit www.dva.gov.au and assess their own potential entitlements via a user-friendly online service.
For example, if holding the appropriate gold or white concession card, DVA clients can access a booked car with driver, which may be a taxi or private car, to transport them to and from appointments – include allied health providers.
For further information visit the website or call DVA’s Morwell office on 5133 0177 or email Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking the worry out of travelling to Melbourne for health care are volunteer companions, available to accompany you from the Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross Train and Bus Terminals to your health care appointments in Melbourne and back again. Bookings are essential for this service and can be made by contacting Travellers Aid on 1300 700 399.The Medical Companion Project is a free service for those using public transport. The only cost to you is your travel ticket to and from Melbourne.