New trans­port ser­vice

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page -

West Wim­mera res­i­dents ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­culty get­ting to non-emer­gency med­i­cal, so­cial and hu­man-ser­vices ap­point­ments are set to ben­e­fit from a new com­mu­nity trans­port ser­vice.

A joint Trans­port for Vic­to­ria and Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion project, stage one of the planned three-stage Wim­mera South­ern Mallee Com­mu­nity Trans­port Ser­vice, will en­able Kaniva, Nhill, Jeparit, Dim­boola and Pimpinio res­i­dents to ac­cess a weekly bus ser­vice to Horsham.

The ser­vice starts to­day.

The only Vic­to­rian or­gan­i­sa­tion of its kind to re­ceive fund­ing, the Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion has $125,000 to spend on the first year of a two-year pi­lot ser­vice.

It aims to in­crease so­cial con­nect­ed­ness while re­duc­ing a re­gional trans­port gap.

Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Julie Pet­tett said in 2014 the or­gan­i­sa­tion iden­ti­fied sig­nif­i­cant trans­port dis­ad­van­tages among small Wim­mera com­mu­ni­ties.

“We em­barked on a project to de­velop a cost-ef­fec­tive, vol­un­teer-based model for com­mu­nity trans­port,” she said.

“It’s so ex­cit­ing to see stage one come to fruition and we hope our com­mu­ni­ties will em­brace the ser­vice and make it their own.”

Ru­ral Out­reach Pro­gram com­mu­nity en­gage­ment of­fi­cer Chris­tine Pi­cone has worked to get the ser­vice off the ground, in­clud­ing es­tab­lish­ing an ‘en­thu­si­as­tic’ vol­un­teer driver base.

“It is ab­so­lutely amaz­ing the lengths peo­ple will go to help their com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

“Our vol­un­teer driv­ers, who al­ready give their time to many other projects, have gen­er­ously given up four days of their lives to train for this ser­vice.

“Their en­thu­si­asm and ex­cite­ment are in­fec­tious and will pos­i­tively con­trib­ute to change in our com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are happy to be able to again pro­vide a ser­vice, where one has been lack­ing for a long time, and work to­wards ad­dress­ing the ru­ral and re­mote trans­port gaps.”

Stress­ing the ser­vice was not just for in­de­pen­dent, mo­bile se­nior ci­ti­zens, but also young mothers and other pas­sen­gers, Ms Pi­cone said a prac­tice run on Oc­to­ber 25 high­lighted how the ser­vice could con­nect users with large, re­gional cen­tres.

“We pulled up in Roberts Av­enue in Horsham at the ex­act same time as the V-line bus,” she said.

“The tim­ing couldn’t have been more per­fect and will al­low our pas­sen­gers to con­nect with other trans­port ser­vices, pro­vid­ing an ex­am­ple of how out­reach con­nects our com­mu­ni­ties.”

Longer term, the pi­lot ser­vice, which has a min­i­mal charge, aims to ex­pand across the Wim­mera to in­clude Yar­ri­ambi­ack, North­ern Grampians, Hind­marsh and Horsham mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Peo­ple seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion about the ser­vice, or to book a seat can call 1800 952 211.

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