Volunteers to launch a hospice after 'rowdy' meeting
A BREAKAWAY group of volunteers and members of the Sunshine Coast Hospice will launch their own facility following a disastrous meeting on Saturday.
Security guards barred entry by protesters to a special meeting called to determine the future of the hospice board which has been under fire for the closure of Katie Rose Cottage at Doonan and the locking away of palliative care equipment.
Palliative care and fund raising volunteers claimed attempts over the past six months to secure membership had been rejected without clarification.
They said there had been 73 members at the time the meeting was called but that had grown to 96 by Saturday, enough to sufficiently swing the vote in the board's favour.
Carol Raye said as the integrity of the numbers was questionable two thirds of the financial membership in attendance had walked out.
"We will report what has occurred to ASIC and the Charities Commission and let them deal with it," Ms Raye said.
Outside Ms Raye announced a new hospice, which would service the whole Sunshine Coast, had been formed under the name Katie Rose Cottage, that an ABN had been secured and a property donated to carry on the work that has been in abeyance since the Doonan hospice was closed nine months ago by the board.
After numerous attempts on Saturday and Sunday morning to speak with Sunshine Coast Hospice chair Dr Frank Lewins he eventually supplied a statement outlining the board's position.
Dr Lewins, describing the meeting as "rowdy", said it was however "conducted the meeting in accord with the Sunshine Hospice Ltd Constitution and Corporations Law".
He said after a number of financial members and a scrutineer had walked out all resolutions were defeated by a clear majority.
"This meant that the current Board were confirmed by a clear majority and the motions to replace the current directors defeated,'' Dr Lewins said in a statement.
"The item to discuss the future of the hospice was removed from the agenda by resolution of the meeting on the insistence of the Katie Rose Cottage Committee representatives.
"The board has accepted new memberships and renewals within the timelines specified by the Corporation Law and the Company's Constitution."
In his statement Dr Lewins said that on at least two occasions during the past three months a small group of the financial membership (who are part of the Katie Rose Cottage Committee) had requested a meeting with the Board to discuss matters.
"On at least two occasions the Board has accepted their offer and organised to meet with these members,'' he said.
"On both occasions the meeting has been cancelled by the members who requested the meeting. It is unclear to the Board as whether the group of members who have cancelled these proposed meetings have informed other members of the Katie Rose Cottage Committee."
Dr Lewins said it was the board's intention to reopen the Hospice to provide guests with a serene and peaceful place for them to spend their last days.
"A reopened Hospice will support the whole of the Sunshine Coast and Hinterland community as it has done for the last four years," he said.
Ms Rae said the new group announced by those who wallked out of the meeting would begin outreach and counselling services and would go into the community to seek support for what would be an open and accountable charity.
She said the new Katie Rose Cottage Committee would negotiate to purchase the original hospice at Doonan which she said was still on the market.
"We are doing this in memory of the 350 people who have passed away at Katie Rose Cottage and whose who haven't had access to the facility in the past nine months," Ms Rae said.
"We plan to open a Katie Rose Op Shop in the foreseeable future and we know where the community support will be.
"We have the volunteers. They deserve a good outcome and will get one."
At the meeting at the Big Pineapple angry protesters, many of whom were hospice volunteers whose membership had been rejected without reason, waved placards and peered through the clear glass walls as the meeting got under way after doors were locked by security guards.
Sue Story, co-founder of the original Katie Rose, said before the meeting the proxy vote she carried from fellow founder Terry Clarke-Burrows had been rejected because the board had said it didn't recognise her own signature even though she was there with the document.
"It's so sad the meeting has been stacked, so sad people have had to die without being helped, so sad the board has locked up all the equipment," Ms Story said.
"It is just ego and arrogance. Not once have they mentioned the terminally ill who are dying.
"There is between $100,000 and $200,000 worth of equipment locked away that won't be used until four or five years' time when they build a modern facility.
"They can build it but don't stop us. The Sunshine Coast Hospice is for the whole community and is supported all over the Coast.
"There are people who wanted to be financial members who sent in requests and money six months ago.
"One to two weeks ago their applications and cheques were sent back. People who run the hospice shop can't be members. If you don't agree you can't be a member."