All aboard the KilkiVAN!

  • Jo Edwards, Kerry Jordan and Dorn Gooding on board to the Goomeri seniors' event
    Jo Edwards, Kerry Jordan and Dorn Gooding on board to the Goomeri seniors' event
  • KilkiVAN trip to Gympie
    KilkiVAN trip to Gympie
  • Newly signwritten
    Newly signwritten
  • Volunteer driver Greg Segnit with the KilkiVAN
    Volunteer driver Greg Segnit with the KilkiVAN

 

 

By
Rosie Fitzgerald and Dr Dan Wadsworth
Kilkivan and District Community Care Association Inc. and University of Sunshine Coast/Manna Institute
Issue
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What do Menopause the Musical, the Moffatdale Wine Trail, and Hervey Bay Whale Watching have in common? Kilkivan seniors have tried them all by travelling on the KilkiVAN.

Access to transport is key to health and wellbeing in rural communities. Reflecting a common story, until 2021 residents without a car or licence in Kilkivan, a small rural town in Queensland with a population of ~750, had to rely on friends or neighbours for transport even locally, let alone trips to Noosa (1.5 hours) or Brisbane (2.5 hours). Despite being situated on the busy Wide Bay Highway, no transport services were available, except for sporadic medical appointment trips booked well in advance with a community centre service from another town.

Enter the aptly-named KilkiVAN, a 12-seater Toyota Hiace which has transformed the social connectivity of seniors in the district. Purchased by Kilkivan & District Community Care Association Inc. (KDCCAI) in June 2021 with a grant from the Queensland Government’s Gambling Community Benefit Fund, President Rosie Fitzgerald felt both delighted and awkward when a group of QUT students mentioned the name for the vehicle. “Despite growing up in the Kilkivan district and using the word for 6 decades, it never occurred to me to use that inflection and meaning! It’s perfect, and has helped the vehicle gain a profile of its own.”

The last two years have seen four accredited volunteer drivers and trip coordinators oversee a vibrant mix of social, shopping, and medical trips. Seniors from Kilkivan, neighbouring Woolooga and Goomeri have ventured to garden centres, restaurants, concerts, movies, op shops, and bingo, even visiting wineries and going whale watching. Unsurprisingly, the KilkiVAN is often at capacity and booked out well in advance.

“Our most recent trip was to Menopause the Musical in Kingaroy, an hour from Kilkivan. That’s one of the few times the KilkiVAN has been out at night, apart from the Friday night courtesy bus service to the local Hotel and Bowls Club. Passengers later said that we should issue incontinence aids prior to travel if we go again – they laughed long and hard that night!”

Rosie is full of praise for the team facilitating these good times, who canvas requests for destinations at fortnightly Seniors’ Social Hub gatherings. “It’s rewarding to see how popular the social trips are; we have a core group who attend regularly while others pick and choose. Our most senior regular passenger has just turned 95, and recently requested another visit to the country music concert in Gympie!  She’s certainly enjoying her 90s, with a little help from the KilkiVAN!”

A modest fee to ride covers ongoing vehicle costs, except on Friday night trips which are sponsored by fund-raising from Kilkivan Hotel. Once a month, the KilkiVAN goes to Gympie on a fixed date, allowing people to book appointments and go shopping. Although not as popular as the social trips, it’s an important part of helping the Kilkivan community to age well.

Part of the success of the KilkiVAN is its integration into the broader Rise & Shine Concept developed by KDCCAI, ensuring other crucial elements of healthy ageing are also available. The KDCCAI coordinates accessible Home Care Packages (through Trilogy Care and the Mable support worker platform), publishes a free monthly newsletter, has a regular seniors social program, and is currently sourcing funding for affordable rental accommodation. Rise & Shine is empowering local seniors, with lots of positive outcomes!

 Long live the KilkiVAN!

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