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General Interest

What is HillsCarPal?

HillsCarPal is a transportation service for Sydney Hills Seniors who otherwise face becoming Shut-ins in their own homes.

HillsCarPal volunteer drivers offer to detour to pick up a Senior and drop them off along the route of a trip the driver was taking anyway. Seniors can take a ride with a HillsCarPal driver anywhere in the Sydney metropolitan area.

And you can click here for information on the concept underlying CarPal’s Community Rideshare service for Shut-in Seniors.

Why was HillsCarPal set up?

HillsCarPal aims to help Seniors overcome the difficulty they have getting around Sydney when they can no longer drive themselves. HillsCarPal helps them to overcome their mobility issues as they try to maintain a sense of social inclusion in their later years. For example:

• Across town taxi fares are expensive and such trips are not generally serviced by Community Transport;
• Attending an evening event using public transport is viewed as undesirable because of the walk home from the bus;
• Existing Community Transport is not designed to react to weekend or short-notice requests;
• The NRMA has identified that change is needed in its Discussion Paper on Transport for Ageing Australians.

HillsCarPal believes that older Australians can lead a richer life in the community than out of it!

How will HillsCarPal help Senior Citizens?

Wanting to keep in touch is not only for the young:

HillsCarPal is there for Seniors who do not drive and are finding it difficult to use public transport to get around.

They may be uncertain of negotiating steps, or worried about being bitten by the dog in their street as they walk home. Or they may not be able to walk 200metres to the bus stop.

Also, the lack of a trusted, low cost, flexible and convenient transportation option for the Senior Citizens is the chief reason why many elderly drivers are loathe to hand in their driver’s licence as they age.

With HillsCarPal, many Seniors will put their driving days behind them without having to become a recluse, cut off from their community.

Can you please provide an overall description of the CarPal service?

Click here for an aggregated service description of the CarPal Seniors Transportation Service.

Driving for HillsCarPal

I don’t always have time to detour. Does HillsCarPal want volunteers like me?

You are exactly the sort of driver we are looking for. Someone who can help provide a ride occasionally but cannot commit to a regular time or journey.

We will provide you with information on Facebook “Events” showing the Seniors who want to go somewhere in Sydney and need a ride to get there. The information will include their pickup and drop off locations and a preferred pickup time. After that it’s just a matter of seeing if their trip request matches with your planned trip … and you commit ONLY when you have the time to detour!

So you make the choice of when you can help. There is no obligation on when or how often you will be able to volunteer a ride.

I will have someone with me in the car. Is that a problem?

No, that’s fine.

HillsCarPal is a detour service. So you conduct your day as you would have done if you weren’t volunteering with HillsCarPal.

Just be aware that our Volunteer Accident Insurance policy only covers the volunteer driver NOT any passengers you may have with you.

And one other point worth noting is to carefully read the details in Ride Requests to check if the Client is requesting to travel with a companion e.g. a carer, friend or family member. If this is the case, you may need to consider whether your available seating or boot space will allow you to provide the Ride.


The HillsCarPal Team

How does HillsCarPal work?

You will regularly receive the details of trips (or rides) that clients request via Facebook “Events”.

To accept a “booking”, you “join” the “event”. When the trip-day arrives you detour from your planned trip and pick up the client at the address given in the “event” and then drop him or her at the nominated destination. You have no obligation to be available for the return journey unless you also “join(ed)” that “event” as a separate offer that you made.

After completing each ride, you complete a “PollDaddy” response on our “Ride Feedback” Facebook page to give us some feedback on the Ride including if you used the MPS permit. This response doubles as a claim for reimbursement of additional vehicle operating costs.

If you claim reimbursement you will receive a monthly payment into your PayPal account (up to $5.50 for each trip) for any trips you took that month. It’s as simple as that!

What’s the process to volunteer?

Like all volunteer positions, there is a fair bit of admin to get through before you make you first offer of a ride to a deserving Sydney Hills Senior. And we understand that you will need time to respond as the process goes along and to fit it in with the other things in your life.

We suggest that you think in terms of 5 or 6 weeks (elapsed time) for the admin component of becoming a volunteer with us.

We will need to meet with you face to face once during the process. We’ll come to you at a time a location that suits you or, you can come to our office at Baulkham Hills if you wish.

At the end of the process, you sign up to our HillsCarPal Volunteer Driver Agreement and Code of Behaviour and we’ll explain our volunteers’ insurance cover, provide you with a HillsCarPal ID and permission you for the clients’ secret groups on Facebook.

Then get used to our Shut-in Seniors’ smiles when you offer rides to clients whose travel needs around Sydney fit with your own busy life and schedule.



Can any driver join up?

Any driver who fits the following profile can become a volunteer driver with HillsCarPal:

  • NSW C Class driving licence or better;
  • Car or SUV registered with Greenslip insurance cover;
  • Has access to the internet via a PC or smartphone; and
  • Makes regular trips into or around the Sydney Hills region.

What would I do if the client I was transporting was became ill?

First things first:

HillsCarPal will be telling Seniors who are feeling ill to cancel any planned HillsCarPal trips; and

HillsCarPal will NOT be taking bookings from sick and injured persons for trips to  hospital;

What to do, if it happens enroute:

If a client becomes ill during a trip, pull over safely and render what assistance you can; and

If you deem a client’s illness enroute to be a matter of extreme urgency, call an ambulance by dialling 000 and wait where you are for it to arrive;

In the aftermath:

As soon as it is possible and practicable to do so, call HillsCarPal on 0418 229 616 to advise what happened and where things stand.

We will arrange alternative transport if the Client wishes to abort the Ride and return home so that you can continue on your own journey.

We will provide you with feedback on the Client’s condition when we have this information.

If you incur any additional expenses in attending to the situation, HillsCarPal will reimburs your claim for reasonable expenses arising from the incident.

What documentation do HillsCarPal Drivers sign up to?

Click here for CarPal’s Volunteer Driver agreement.

Taking a Ride with HillsCarPal

How does HillsCarPal work?

A volunteer you will call will enter the details of the trip you want to take into Facebook “Events”.

You will receive a phone call telling you if your request will be met by one of our volunteers.

If a volunteer driver accepts your request, he or she will pick you up (in their car) and drop you at your destination.

You will receive a monthly invoice from CarPal to pay $8.50 ($17.00 for a  return journey) for each Ride you have taken that month. And you will also pay an Annual Membership fee of $40 added to your invoice for your 1st Ride of each calendar year. It’s as simple as that!

How do I subscribe to HillsCarPal for GrandMa?

So you have told your Grandmother (or other Senior) about HillsCarPal and how it can help Sydney Hills Seniors to get out around Sydney. Now you want help her (or him/her) by taking the hassle out of joining up on her (or his) behalf. After you get GrandMa’s (or other Senior’s) agreement to give it a go, follow the steps below:

  1. To start off just subscribe at our home page www.hillscarpal.org.au in your own name and email address;
  2. Respond to the message you receive – as though you were a potential client – by clicking the link to become a HillsCarPal client;
  3. You will also need to tell us the name of your GrandMa (or Senior friend). You may use the same email address that you used to subscribe or one used by GrandMa (or other Senior). Our response will be directed to the email address you provide; and finally
  4. Call us on 02 9639 8620 if you need any further explanation. We are there from 9.30am – 3.00pm, Mon to Fri.

GrandMa can now get to anywhere in Sydney at any time and all for just $8.50 a Ride (plus an Annual Membership fee of $40 invoiced on her first Ride each calendar year).

Her busy social calendar may prevent her from seeing you as often after that!

Can a friend or carer come with me on my Ride?

Yes, but here are some things to consider:

  1. Some drivers may not be comfortable taking more than one passenger;
  2. On occasion, drivers may have other passengers (including children in safety seats) and, therefore there may not be enough seating for more than one person;
  3. Only one pickup and drop-off location will be accepted for your Ride;
  4. Boot space may be unavailable for more than one walking frame or set of shopping bags; and
  5. You will be held responsible for your companions’ conduct during the Ride.

“OK”, I hear you say. “How do I see if I can arrange it?”

The answer is you just provide some more details when you make your initial Ride Request(s) on Facebook. We also suggest that  you issue your Ride Request(s) as early as possible.

The extra details needed are:

  1. The number of extra passengers;
  2. Their names and their relationship to you e.g. friend, carer, son, daughter etc; and
  3. Anything other than a handbag they will have with them that might need boot space;

There is only one invoice (for $7.50; $15.00 for a return Ride) issued for the Ride; the same as if you were travelling alone.

The key is to let drivers know when you make the initial Ride Request(s). That way there are no surprises for you or for the driver.


The HillsCarPal Team


What if I am feeling unwell on the day?

It is better that you worry firstly about yourself and your health.

Let HillsCarPal take care of any issues for us that may arise if you are suddenly unwell. And there is no charge for Rides that are cancelled because of illness.

However, we are not an substitute for the ambulance service and do NOT offer a service of taking sick or injured people to hospital.

If you need an ambulance please call one immediately on 000.

But if you are able, call the driver or HillsCarPal (0418 229 616) to cancel the Ride. We can always take you where you want to go another day when you are feeling better.

I’m a Senior who doesn’t have a PC. Can I ride?

The answer is “Yes” …it just takes a bit of setting up in either of the two (2) ways described below:

Sponsor: The easiest way is if you know someone who is “online” and who is willing to book your Rides for you, asking them to be your Sponsor They will be a trustworthy friend or family member who has their own email address.

When you need a Ride, you call them and they will “relay” your Ride Requests online to HillsCarPal volunteer drivers. They will then call you back to advise the names and mobile phone numbers of the drivers who will drive you. They will also be responsible for making payment for your Rides and you may need to provide them with your credit card details. There is no extra cost to use HillsCarPal if you arrange your own Sponsor.

Online Facilitator: If you don’t know anyone to ask to be your Sponsor, we’ll try to find you one. If we are successful in finding a volunteer to help book your Rides, we will run a Police Check on him/her and put them in touch with you. Seniors who use our service in this way are called Phone Clients.

When you need a Ride, you call them and they will “relay” your Ride Requests online to HillsCarPal volunteer drivers. He/she will then call you back to advise the names and mobile phone numbers of the drivers who will drive you. You will be responsible to call us to arrange Credit Card payment for Rides taken each month. And there is a Phone Support Contribution of $30/annum if you want to use our Seniors transportation service in this manner.


The HillsCarPal Team

Can any Senior join?

To join HillsCarPal you will need to be a Sydney Hills Senior who holds or receives one of the following:
o A current Pensioner Concession Card (PCC), issued by Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA);

o A DVA Gold Card endorsed ‘TPI’ (Totally & Permanently Incapacitated);

o A DVA Gold Card endorsed ‘EDA’ (Extreme Disablement Adjustment);

o A letter or statement/determination from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs stating that the person receives a disability pension of 70% or higher, or an Intermediate or Extreme Disablement Adjustment Pension, or who has been assessed under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 at 50 or more impairment points;

o A DVA Gold Card endorsed ‘War Widow’;

o A DVA Gold Card endorsed ‘War Widower’; or

o A CentreLink Health Care Card.



What else is there to understand?

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for HillsCarPal membership, HillsCarPal clients will also:

• be capable of walking short distances with or without a walking aid;

• have a home computer (PC) with internet access;
• have a friend or family member or Facilitator appointed by CarPal (for Phone Clients), who has a PC with internet access, and who is willing to book Rides on their behalf; and

• make payments for Rides they take by credit card or PayPal.

Each Ride Request must be made on Facebook “Events” so that that volunteer drivers are covered by our Volunteer Accident Insurance policy.

Any Rides that follow a repetitive pattern will need to be entered into Facebook ‘Events” using its Repeat or Copy functions so that a HillsCarPal response can be forthcoming.

How do I know it is safe?

When new volunteer drivers join us, CarPal checks every driver has a full driver’s licence (not provisional) and that the vehicle(s) they nominate to use are registered with Greenslip insurance cover.

We do not accept drivers who are on provisional licences.

We issue all drivers with a photo ID and only use “Secret Groups” on Facebook to publish Ride Requests to our volunteers.

We carry out Australian Criminal History Checks (aka as a Police Check) on ALL volunteer drivers before permitting them to drive you.

How much notice do I need to give?

The more notice you are able to give, the better your chances of matching the travel patterns of one of the HillsCarPal drivers.

Eventually, HillsCarPal expects to be able to offer as little as a two (2) hour advance notice for trips to many areas around Sydney.

Can you please provide an overall description of the CarPal service?

Click here for an aggregated service description of the CarPal Seniors Transportation Service.

Is it $8.50 each way?

Yes. Generally each trip will be provided by a different driver who will detour from their planned trip to pick you up.

So a return trip will cost $17.00 for all Rides after the 1st Ride each calendar year.

What if my return-trip driver does not turn up?

A phone call to HillsCarPal will ensure that you will not be left stranded.

Alternative transport will be arranged by HillsCarPal to get you home safely with as little delay as possible.

What if I forget the technology details?

After the initial introduction that HillsCarPal will provide, you can refer to the following resources as a memory-jogger

Training Manuals


Making Ride Requests on Facebook

Click here to see an example of the Facebook “Events” screens that Clients use to book a Ride with HillsCarPal.

And if a Ride Request is for you and carer or friend make sure that you include in your Ride Requests(s):

  • The number of extra passengers;
  • Their names and their relationship to you e.g. friend, carer, son, daughter etc; and
  • Anything other than a handbag they will have with them that might need boot space;


If you can’t follow the information given here just send HillsCarPal an email with your question or call us on 02 9639 8620.


The HillsCarPal Team

What documentation do HillsCarPal Clients sign up to when they enroll?

Click here for HillsCarPal’s Client Agreement & Ride Guidelines.


Online Facilitators

What does an Online Facilitator do?


For the context of this question click on: “I’m a Senior who doesn’t have a PC. Can I ride?

The Answer:

It’s really very simple, although you do need to be good with detail. The basics of what is involved are:

  1. Take a call from the Senior;
  2. Get their Ride details; both outgoing & return;
  3. Put these details into Facebook “Events”;
  4. Monitor Facebook replies from HillsCarPal drivers;
  5. Call the Senior back with the results, supplying them with driver & pickup details;
  6. Take a call from the Senior with feedback of the Ride(s) taken; and
  7. Enter the Ride (s) feedback into Facebook’s PollDaddy App.

So, it is something that can be done from anywhere using a PC or smartphone. BUT, while it will be simple for the Online Facilitator it will mean a lot in the lives of Shut-in Seniors.

What documentation do Online Facilitators sign up to?

Click here to see the agreement that we ask Online Facilitators to sign.

Here’s how to support us

I can’t drive a Sydney Hills Senior. What can I do to support HillsCarPal?

There are several options that you could choose to support HillsCarPal and Sydney Hills Shut-in Seniors even though driving them is not an option for you right now.

Here are some of them:

  1. First, don’t overlook the power of Telling someone you know about the project. Tell them what Shut-in Syndrome is and how we are trying to overcome it. Give your contacts and, more particularly your friends, the Facebook (www.facebook.com/HillsCarPal) and website (www.hillscarpal.org.au) addresses and ask them to check us out;
  2. Our volunteer drivers are people who will visit The Hills region at least every two weeks and have a black licence. Maybe you know someone who is in this category. If so, urge them to consider Shut-in Seniors and volunteer their car occasionally by subscribing at www.hillscarpal.org.au;
  3. Become a Facebook ambassador for us at HillsCarPal and SHARE our Facebook posts with your Friends…. and ask your Friends to share with their Friends.
  4. Maybe, you or your family knows a Sydney Hills resident who can use our service. If so, tell them to ring us on 02 9639 8620 to find out if they qualify. You could also become their Sponsor and book their Rides;
  5. Then there’s our Blog www.hillscarpal.org.au/blog. We want to publish the stories of Shut-in Seniors there. Do you know anyone who is ageing and is being (or has been) challenged to stay connected with the family, friends and community by not being able to drive themselves around Sydney? Without using their real names, tell us their story and we’ll publish it on the Blog. Sharing such stories is a powerful way to get others involved in the cause.
  6. Another idea that you might consider, is to tell us about any community organisations or sporting bodies you are associated with, who might be willing to tell their members (via their email mailing lists) about us. Ask such bodies, if they would help spread the word about HillsCarPal to their membership and tell them we would acknowledge their asssistance on our website. Then email us with what you have been able to organise and we’ll take it from there.

Whatever you decide to do, your support is very valuable in highlighting the often hidden problem of Shut-in Syndrome, experienced by so many Seniors. So we ask you to please stay engaged with us by subscribing to our mailing list at www.hillscarpal.org.au, if you haven’t already done so.


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