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Hillside Lodge for the Masonic Homes Inc, Heathfield, South Australia, Monday, 14 September 1998: address on the occasion of the opening.

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It is a great pleasure for Helen and me to be with you this morning, to renew our friendship with members of Masonic Homes, and to share in the official opening of “Hillside Lodge”, the organisation’s truly outstanding new aged care facility here in the Adelaide Hills.

Helen and I were last with members of Masonic Homes in May 1996 when it was my privilege to open “Tiwi Gardens” Village in Darwin. “Tiwi Gardens” is a remarkably well designed and built complex for people who are entering their retirement years but who still enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle ... a Village for independent living, but where the communal facilities are wholly within the tradition and standards of care that we have come to expect from Masonic Homes.

Hillside Lodge offers accommodation for people who are at another - and more difficult - stage of the life cycle. It is a Nursing Home for people who are in need of constant care and assistance. Indeed, of the 35 residents, approximately 8 have beds in a specially designed dementia unit. Like a number of similar facilities we have visited in recent years, a feature of the Lodge is the use of sophisticated and discreet electronic equipment to monitor patients - particularly those who, as sometimes happens with dementia, become disoriented, confused and at risk of wandering. It is a difficult and frequently a distressing situation for the residents, their families and of course for the staff.

Provided that the equipment is used in a sensitive and unobtrusive manner as it will be here - one which respects the dignity and privacy of each person - I believe it makes an important contribution to the overall standards of care and nursing which all the residents have a right to expect and which they receive and will continue to receive here at Hillside

Lodge. Hillside Lodge is also equipped with a sophisticated fire fighting system for the protection of the residents.

The history of Masonic Homes in South Australia goes back 117 years - to 1881, when land was made available by Mr W.H. Gray on trust for the purpose of building homes for indigent Masons. Through a combination of circumstances, it was not until 1934 that Masonic Homes really got under way, with the opening of 8 pairs of cottages in North Adelaide to mark the Grand Lodge Jubilee. Since then, Masonic Homes has grown to the point where today some 700 people are accommodated in independent or hostel units

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at Somerton Park, Ridgehaven, Colonel Light Gardens and at Darwin, or in the organisation’s various nursing homes of which Hillside Lodge is the latest.

When one becomes involved in general discussion about the accommodation of older people, one sometimes hears nostalgic references to the old days when there was, so it is said, little need for facilities for older people for the reason that it was a common feature of family life that parents and grandparents were cared for by the younger generations with whom they live. I must confess that, as the years have passed and I have myself grown older, I have viewed such references with increasing scepticism.

There are no doubt cases where it is in the interests of both older and younger members of a family that aged parents live with adult children and their families. In other cases, however, the superficial bliss of frail aged members of a family living with, and being largely reliant upon, adult children and grandchildren can, particularly in the context of a modem Australian urban society where women are entitled to be equal participants in the workforce, conceal intolerable strains upon both adult children and their spouses on the one hand and the aged parent or grandparent on the other.

Nonetheless, there are many things to be leamt by those responsible for the establishment and management of accommodation for older people from the model of the extended family living under the one roof. One of the most important of those things is the desirability of preserving, for the older citizen, close and easy contact with other members of his or her immediate and extended family and the need for the older citizen to continue to feel actively involved with the community. Now that the responsibility of the community to make adequate provision for the aged is generally accepted in our country, one of the most common perils facing an older person is that he or she effectively becomes cut-off from both family and community. In that regard, it must always be remembered that the misery of profound loneliness can exist notwithstanding the presence of a multitude. Indeed, loneliness can be made worse by the presence of others.

In this respect, the opening of Hillside Lodge today marks a very important step forward for the people of this region. I understand that, since the early 1980s, various proposals have been put forward for a nursing home in the district of Stirling. Land in the Adelaide Hills is at a premium; and for the past 4 years Masonic Homes has been working with the municipal authorities and other community organisations to find a suitable site.

Eventually, last year, this property was acquired and the foundation stone was laid last November. Building proceeded very well, and the first of the residents moved in last June.

What is especially gratifying, from every point of view, is the fact that the majority of those for whom Hillside Lodge is now their home are from this district. I understand that quite a few had been living in Adelaide, and have moved back to be with family and friends in the Adelaide Hills. All but one of the 40 staff who service this wonderful new complex are from the local area. Thus, the sense of community, of family, of involvement

in the world, is made real and strengthened.

Let me convey Helen’s and my warm good wishes to each of the residents and prospective residents of Hillside Lodge. I am sure I speak for everyone here when I express the sincere hope that you will all enjoy many long years of happiness here at your new home.


Let me also acknowledge and thank all those who have been directly or indirectly involved in the planning and construction of Hillside Lodge. In particular I congratulate Masonic Homes, its Chairman, Mr Carmen, its CEO, Mr Birkill, its directors and all its staff on another fine achievement. I also congratulate the Architects, Brown Falconer, the Builder, Harrold & Kite, and all who have contributed to the project whether through planning, voluntary work, financial assistance or in kind, including, of course, the Grand Master and the members of the South Australian and Northern Territory Grand Lodge of Freemasons. The results are here for all to see. Hillside Lodge is indeed superbly equipped to meet the continuing needs and expectations of those whom it was built to serve.

And now, it only remains for me to declare Hillside Lodge officially open. I will do that by adapting the time-honoured ship launching formula. I officially open Hillside Lodge. May God bless and protect all those who live in it, especially those suffering from dementia. And may God bless and inspire all those who serve in it.