Outrage over cancelled hotel bookings because of the arrival of NRL teams in Queensland is growing after it was revealed a foster parents’ conference had been told to make way for star players.
Queensland Foster and Kinship Care, a child protection charity that provides foster homes for children who have experienced harm, was told that the conference it had organised at Twin Waters Novotel Resort on the Sunshine Coast, would need to be cancelled because the NRL had now booked the resort.
It’s the same resort that kicked a bride-to-be and her family out of their rooms to make way for NRL players.
‘It’s absolutely not fair at all,’ the charity’s Executive Director Bryan Smith told ABC Brisbane on Thursday morning.
‘We have an agreement and essentially because of players going into a bubble, we’re forced to accommodate that because of a bigger, better agreement, I guess.’
Queensland Foster and Kinship Care Executive Director Bryan Smith: ‘We’re forced to accommodate… because of a bigger, better agreement, I guess’
Mr Smith said up to 10,000 children in Queensland require home-based foster care, with only around 5.600 families currently providing alternative homes for children at risk of harm
Mr Smith revealed that the conference, which was scheduled for July 29-31 at the resort, had already been rescheduled twice due to earlier Covid lockdowns.
He said the resort had been chosen especially as it provided a weekend away for up to 700 foster parents, carers and their families.
‘They did offer us another hotel in Brisbane which is just not suitable for our type of conference,’ he said.
‘We’re not a commercial conference. Our conference is about recognition and celebration of foster carers. We can’t [allow people to get away for the weekend] in Brisbane.’
Mr Smith said he worried that a number of conference participants who had booked accommodation outside of the resort would now be out-of-pocket.
He was working with the Queensland Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs to ensure people would be reimbursed and was in negotiations with the resort to once again reschedule the conference to November.
It comes at a time when the charity said up to 10,000 children in Queensland require home-based foster care, with only around 5.600 families currently providing alternative homes for children at risk of harm.
‘We need more foster families and carers,’ Mr Smith said.
The NRL’s arrival in Queensland in order to continue the competition away from the Covid outbreak in Sydney had already seen the wedding celebration of young couple Kathryn McDowell and Andrew Hettige at the Twin Waters Golf Club ruined.
They planned to stay at the nearby Novotel resort in Maroochydore where the foster parent’s conference was also scheduled to take place.
Their family booked eight to 10 rooms many months ago for the bridal party, including the bride’s mother Suzie.
Young couple Kathryn McDowell and Andrew Hettige (pictured) had planned to stay at the Novotel resort in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast before their booking was cancelled at the last minute to accommodate NRL teams
The bridal party have been forced to find accommodation elsewhere after losing their rooms at the Twin Waters Novotel Resort (pictured) to make way for pampered NRL players
However, the hotel will now accommodate four NRL teams – the Penrith Panthers, Manly Sea Eagles, Newcastle Knights, and Sydney Roosters – for quarantine.
The teams were flown out of NSW as Sydney residents hunker down to battle to a Covid outbreak – going into their fourth week of a harsh lockdown that will now continue until at least July 30.
Why the players and team staff require a luxury four star beachfront resort to conduct a 14-day quarantine largely confined to their rooms has not been revealed.
After being booted from the hotel, Ms Mcdowell has had to scramble to find replacement accommodation just three days out from her wedding.
The couple (pictured) had to scramble to find alternative accommodation after their hotel rooms were cancelled at the last minute
Suzie told 4BC Radio’s Neil Breen her brother was flying up from Melbourne and first saw the email on Tuesday night confirming they had lost their reservation.
‘He rang me saying his accommodation has been cancelled due to Novotel becoming a quarantine hotel,’ she said.
‘I rang them last night and (the hotel) said ”yep”, and that we should be getting an email confirming it soon.
Kathryn McDowell and Andrew Hettige (pictured) are set to tie the knot this weekend but have had to rush to find backup accommodation for their family
‘I’m out and we’re all out and we had about eight to 10 rooms booked.’
After spending hours online Suzie and Kathryn managed to find backup accommodation, but they will be staying in separate hotels.
‘Obviously my money is not good enough and the NRL is more important,’ she said.
Suzie will be staying in Marcoola – a 15 minute drive away.
The mother said she and her daughter booked the Novotel resort rooms months in advance and there was about 70 guests coming to the wedding.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steve Miles said on Wednesday it was unfortunate some events would be displaced because of the NRL teams quarantine but ‘obviously there weren’t three empty resorts available’.
Twin Waters Novotel Resort said it was not able to comment when approached by Daily Mail Australia.
Novotel Twin Waters Resort (pictured) is a four star luxury beachfron resort on the Sunshine Coast
New Zealand Warriors players are seen arriving into Queensland (pictured) which has become a safe haven for NRL clubs during the pandemic
The NRL has moved shift 12 clubs into southeast Queensland for at least a month to escape NSW amid an alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases.
All NSW and ACT-based clubs were moved into three dedicated hubs in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast by Wednesday, while Melbourne and the three Queensland-based clubs remain in their home cities.
Games will be played out of Suncorp Stadium, Cbus Stadium or Sunshine Coast Stadium.