The supported accommodation units in Narrandera are nearly open, and it is the culmination of years of hard work and effort.
None have worked harder than the Friends of Cyprus Committee, who have worked tirelessly for over a decade to reach this point.
“It’s an absolute delight to see it actually standing,” said Bill Howitt, member of the Friends of Cyprus Committee.
“Up until now there’s been no accommodation for people with a disability in Narrandera. Up until now, people have had to go to the city, Wagga or Dubbo.
“That’s hard, because they belong in the community and they’re happy in their community.”
Mr Howitt said that he was initially approached by the parents of people with a disability in 2006, asking about accommodation for their children.
“I thought I’d ring up ADHC [the NSW Department of Aging, Disability and Home Care] and they’d say, ‘where do we put the house?’ Ten years later we still didn’t have one.”
Undaunted, the Friends of Cyprus Committee was formed with the intention of securing accommodation for adults with a disability.
The committee formed as part of a merger with Kurrajong, after the Howard government approved funding changes that made the initial Cyprus Centre Committee difficult to survive on its own.
“For a person with a disability to get accommodation, you had to ring Dubbo – I have no idea why it was in Dubbo – and fill out a massive form over the phone. That’s too hard for anyone to do over the phone, let alone someone with a disability.
“We were told no-one wanted the accommodation, but when we started asking around, we found about 38 people with the same need in our community,” Mr Howitt said.
“We were directed to Mr Tim Evans and Mr Sean McIntosh of ADHC in Albury who did their best to lead us through the bureaucratic maze and finally helped us to get the funding.
“We corresponded with five separate Ministers for Aging, Disability and Home Care. We visited Officers of ADHC in Wagga Wagga, Dubbo and Albury on regular bases, and we virtually haunted them.”
The longevity of the Friends of Cyprus Committee’s campaign meant that they dealt with various ADHC executives before they were able to have any success.
“Finally Minister John Ajaka did support the need and the Friend of Cyprus Committee requested Kurrajong receive the funding to build the unit development as we had confidence in them,” he said.
Mr Howitt said that nothing could have been done without the support of the Narrandera community.
“The Narrandera Community gave incredible support. We had many wonderful fundraising events such as the debutante balls.”
Mr Howitt also said that local businesses including the Narrandera Bendigo Community Bank, the Narrandera Argus, Climate Technologies, Moses and Son Wool Merchants and Narrandera Ex-Servicemen’s Club had provided help and donations to the cause.
Mr Howitt also said that there had been donations from individuals, many of whom wished to remain anonymous, who had given what they could.
“The Services Clubs, Rotary, Inner Wheel, Soroptimists, Lions and the Probus Clubs took us under their wings and raised much needed funds and assisted in other ways.
“The Rodeo Committee and the Garden Club were and continue to be very generous.
“Along the way we had wonderful support from the Narrandera Shire Council who embraced our cause and greatly assisted us.
“We are especially grateful to the Board of Kurrajong, who supported this project from the word go, purchased the land on which the homes are built at the organisations own cost, and took over the management of the project so that it could be brought to fruition,” Mr Howitt said.
“We are particularly indebted to Mr Steve Jaques C.E.O of Kurrajong who offered great advice throughout the saga.
“Mrs Cathie Smith, Manager of Kurrajong Foundation did a mighty job as Project Manager and oversaw the erection and furnishing of the buildings.
“They are now the best possible homes to accommodate our friends with a disability.”
The units will be opened on Monday by the Hon. Ray Williams MP, who is the current Minister for Disability Services.