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Hospital pitched as site for public pool

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Mitcham and Hills Messenger:

The Repatriation General Hospital has been touted as a possible site to fill a need for a community pool in the Mitcham Council area.

Waite MP Martin Hamilton-Smith and Mitcham mayor Glenn Spear visited the Daw Park hospital last week to investigate the future of the Repat’s 25m hydrotherapy pool.

The State Government has earmarked the hospital for closure in its Transforming Health paper, released last month. The proposal has attracted outrage from veterans and the community, with several rallies held urging the government to keep the hospital open.

Mr Hamilton-Smith said it was “highly likely” private health care providers would be interested in buying the site, and if they were the pool should be kept for community use. “I’d be very keen for the community to have some access to that pool,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said. “The Health Minster (Jack Snelling) has acknowledged to me that he would be happy to talk to Mitcham Council about that, and Mitcham Council has indicated a willingness to talk to the Government about that,” Mr Hamilton-Smith told the

Mitcham & Hills Messenger.

“I would certainly hope that whatever is planned for the future of that pool and site could accommodate some community use of the pool.”

Mr Hamilton-Smith was unsure who would pay for the pool, saying “a lot of work would need to be done”.

The Mitcham community has been without a public pool since Bedford Industries closed the Balyana Pool at Clapham in 2013.

The Save the Balyana Pool group, now the Mitcham Pool Action Group, fought to save the pool and presented a 7000-signature petition to the council.

The group has since been lobbying the council to find a suitable location for a new public pool.

Mr Spear said the idea of keeping the Repat pool for the community was in its early stages.

“(The) council is keen to be involved in all discussions about the future of the site and the services that may be offered to our community, including the future use of the rehabilitation pool located at the hospital,” he said.

“While I have initially met with Martin HamiltonSmith, we will also be writing to Minister Jack Snelling to seek a commitment from the Government to ensure that the council is included in future discussions involving both the Repatriation General Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre.”

The Transforming Health paper proposes integrating the Repat’s services with other hospitals.

The hospital’s chapel and remembrance garden, which are both state heritage listed, would be kept and the surrounding area kept for purposes similar to healthcare, such as aged care.

Health officials are going through the more than 2300 submissions received on the plan.