Priest joins call to explain care deal

WODONGA’S Catholic parish priest Dennis Crameri has backed the call for the city’s councillors to reveal their reasons for outsourcing the home and community care service.

Father Crameri said the decision behind close doors had backfired and led to “unrest and anger” in the community.

Meals on wheels volunteer John McCormack has challenged councillors to justify the move at a public meeting.

He issued councillors invitations via email on Wednesday to speak. He has had no replies.

Father Crameri said the community deserved an explanation and he had written to the mayor, Mark Byatt, condemning the move.

“I am not aware of how the council came to this decision,” Father Crameri said.

“But I do know there was little or no consultation with the community.

“This always leaves people feeling powerless and, as is the case here, causes unrest and anger at not being given a voice on such an important matter.”

Father Crameri said privatising such a service would inevitably lead to a cost increase for clients.

“I am sure this is one of the major concerns of citizens,” he said.

“When private enterprise takes over such services its motivation is usually for business reasons — to make money.

“This is fully understandable.

“I also have concerns when governments, be they national, state or local, use economic rationalism as a basis for decision making.

“Services, such as meals on wheels can never be measured simply on economic terms.

“There is an expectation governments at all levels have a responsibility to offer services which, at times, can be a cost that needs to be worn.

“We cannot outsource every service that doesn’t pay for itself.”

Father Crameri said the secretive nature of how council had made the decision was at odds with a recent meeting where church leaders were asked to spell out their expectations of a good council.

“A good council should be transparent in its decision-making, trustworthy and have the best interests of citizens at heart behind every decision,” he said.

“I stand by those comments and strongly urge the council to re-consider this decision or at least give citizens the chance to voice their concerns.”

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