Iluka residents buoyed by support in ambulance fight
ILUKA and Woombah residents remain hopeful an ambulance station will be introduced to the area well before 2031, despite being told otherwise at a community meeting held at Yamba Golf Club on Monday.
An Ambulance NSW representative indicated Iluka's population demographics placed it well down on the priority list, which if unchanged would see Iluka go without a station for up to another 13 years.
However, the founders of Iluka Ambulance Action Group, Ann and John McLean, were adamant other factors such as the ageing population, high number of long-term elderly visitors and lack of access to existing services were viable reasons to jump the queue.
According to the 2016 Census, 55.1 per cent of Iluka's population is aged over 60, while and Woombah had a combined population of 2561, at any one time there are many more semi-permanent residents living in the several caravan parks in the area.
"Some of the visitors have been coming every year for 30 or 40 years and are here for three to four months, and many of those were at the meeting the other night," Mr McLean said.
"Prior to this meeting I visited the three caravan parks in Iluka and at the moment there's another 600 in those parks over winter.
"The population during the peak period over the summer time grows to about six to eight thousand people in the Iluka and Woombah area.
Contrary to a report in The Daily Examiner on Wednesday, which quoted one resident saying "95 per cent of the locals attending would have left the meeting unsatisfied", the couple said there was a strong sense of hope reverberating in the community as a result of the meeting.
"The comments we've received suggest it's more like 95 per cent were happy with the outcome," Mrs McLean said.
"The community support's been fantastic. People have messaged us saying they are really happy our efforts are starting to pay off.
Mr and Mrs McLean said the community was buoyed by Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis' vocal support at the meeting.
"A lot of people haven't always been very supportive in the past but now they realise there's a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, " Mrs McLean said.
"We've got the support from Chris (Gulaptis), he says the government has got the money, and he'll be lobbying the health minster and the deputy premier until Iluka gets an ambulance."
About 250 people attended the meeting, which according to Mr and Mrs McLean could have been even higher for the fact flyers were not delivered to Woombah addresses.
Mr Gulaptis said it was terrific to see so many people attend the community meeting which he called to discuss ambulatory services at Iluka and surrounds.
"Despite what Ambulance NSW officials are saying about where Iluka fits in the scheme of things, I will continue to advocate very strongly for an ambulance station in the coastal village as I believe it is justified," Mr Gulaptis said.
"It has one of the highest ageing populations across the state, is a popular tourist destination which triples in size during the peak season and is quite isolated being surrounded by national park with only one way in and out.
"I have already spoken to the health minister and deputy premier and will continue to press a strong case for Iluka.
"Yamba was told "no" some years ago but that never stopped community campaigner Jim Agnew agitating the powers that be until an ambulance service was realised.
"There is nothing more powerful than a community unified in its cause and I have assured them I will walk side by side with them in their campaign for an ambulance service."
Mr Gulaptis congratulated John and Ann McLean who have steered the campaign after collecting more than 11,500 signatures on a petition.