In the Media

Dignity Party Upper House Candidate Ryan Mann chats to Peter Greco on Leisure Link

Peter Greco | Vision Australia

Peter Greco: Ryan Mann is a candidate for the Dignity Party at next year’s state election running in the legislative council, Ryan’s on the line. Ryan, welcome and thanks for speaking to us.

Ryan Mann: anytime

Peter Greco: Now, Ryan you grew up in South Australia, you were working in Western Australia and had a recreational accident.

Ryan Mann: Yeah, that’s correct. I was living here at the time, I was just working in Western Australia and I was given a day off while I was over there and I had an unfortunate accident where I sustained a spinal cord injury. I was able to, well lucky enough to spend 2 months in the rehabilitation system over there, in the Western Australian health care system before having to return home and I spent 3 months in the rehabilitation system here, and I just, because it’s a rare opportunity for someone to sort of go through that situation, I noticed that there was just a lot of things that we were lacking in this state compared to Western Australia, like a lot of holes in the system.

Peter Greco: So in Western Australia you were in a fairly new hospital weren’t you?

Ryan Mann: Yeah, well they’d upgraded, they built a new hospital there but they’d also built a four story adjacent state of the art rehabilitation system over there.

Peter Greco: so you had two months there then I guess due to family commitments etc you wanted to come back home and be closer to your family, so you spent some time in Hampstead in South Australia and I guess, you have a very much hands on, lived experience of the differences between the two set ups.

Ryan Mann: Yeah, absolutely and I just think, we live in a prosperous state and I just think that we should be one of the states setting the bar with our services and facilities and it just seems that we’re lacking in those areas here.

Peter Greco: Now, if you don’t mind me asking we were talking earlier in the week and you were telling me about a time when you were sitting on the edge of your bed waiting for some professionals to come and help you and I guess that’s a pretty powerful message of things not happening the way they should.

Ryan Mann: yeah, that’s right, I think there’s definitely some staffing issues in this state when it comes to the hospitals and the nursing, and when I came home. Obviously you know my wife was getting home sick over there and my family was missing me, so when we came home, we came in and, due to the low staffing at Hampstead rehabilitation I was sort of taken into what was foreign to me with my disability, and I couldn’t move from the bed at that time, I was sort of put on the bed, and told don’t worry Ryan someone will be there soon, for quite an extended daunting period of time where I was sort of left on my own and it’s no one’s fault at the hospital that’s just one of the many things is that they are just short staffed!

Peter Greco: so it’s not a criticism of the way the staff work, it’s just as you say, the way the hospital is staffed in terms of numbers, so that was a bit of a catalyst for you to think well this isn’t good enough, not just for me but people in this situation in the future, you wanted to do something about it or at least bell the cat on it as it were.

Ryan Mann: Yeah for sure, and I mean it wasn’t just that it was so many things, they were really running tests that needed to be done 12 weeks post injury in Western Australia to be able to come up with a management plan to keep you healthy, keep you out of hospital. It took 2 years for me to have that test done here and countless trips back to hospital, back to the emergency ward. This is racking up the dollars on our healthcare system and it is effecting tax payers, these are – you know, they sound like small things but this is one small thing of lots and lots of small things and when you start adding up all these things, it becomes not just a huge cost but it becomes a burden on not only the patients but a burden on the families and then that goes out when their family have to return to work and they’re worried about you and their colleagues and it ends up affecting the greater society at large.

Peter Greco: Now, you’re obviously feeling very passionate about it, Kelly Vincent has spoken about that sort of thing in the past, and you’re running for the Dignity Party, how did that opportunity and that meeting come about with Kelly Vincent and the Dignity Party.

Ryan Mann: Well, it sort of it wasn’t a snappy, quick decision. I went there because I wanted to raise a few issues –

Peter Greco: this is parliament house?

Ryan Mann: yeah, I went to Parliament house and I couldn’t find the accessible entrance, the entrance isn’t very well sign posted, and I couldn’t find it, I was in my wheelchair at the time, and because I can ambulate, I can use my legs to some degree, but I felt really passionate so I stopped a student who was walking by and asked him kindly to help carry my wheelchair up the stairs, and I marched up parliament steps and went in to see security and said look I need to speak to somebody about these issues, something needs to be done, and I was pointed in the direction of Kelly Vincent. From there on in after we had a letter written to the Health Minister and I just a little more involved and I had just seen some of the things Kelly was working on, and I was just to be honest a little bit shocked, I just looked, I thought we’ve come a long way but I really thought we were living in a more inclusive, universal society, and like I said we are getting there but I really see the Dignity Party and Kelly Vincent working on these issues, I started attending their functions, I started looking at some of the policies and the various bits and pieces like the barriers to justice, universal design and I just thought: this really is a diverse party of people who have lived experience, who haven’t just come from straight out of university necessarily, they’re really listening to the people with their challenges, and to make a universal society, that will make a happier society for sure.

Peter Greco: and you talked about the lived experience, I mean in a sense you can’t put a price on that, you’re living this every minute of your life.

Ryan Mann: That’s correct, and I really want to help Kelly, so we can set the bar as high as the other states, if not higher.

Peter Greco: Terrific, well we wish you well with it and you touched on that you’re interested in other things not just disability, the health system is something you feel very strongly about but you’ve got a sort of broad brush approach to a lot of issues that could make the state better.

Ryan Mann: Yeah definitely, like obviously we’ve got all our power issues, and so with my trade background in mining and obviously within the electrical industry for quite a while and I was involved with auditing transition yards and power stations. I’ve also travelled since I was 16, I did lot of remote country work, so I’ve spent a lot of time listening to farmers in local hotels and that sort of thing, so I’ve definitely heard a lot of the issues that the states facing, I’ve worked in aboriginal regions, I’ve got family in the country, so I really do feel passionate about this state and especially with the fact that I’m now working at SAHMRI the health and medical research centre on North Terrace, so I definitely see where the state is heading and we are heading in the right direction but certainly wouldn’t mind being on the team that helps polish it up, that’s for sure.

Peter Greco: And another nice thing that’s happened in the last couple of months is that you’ve become a dad

Ryan Mann: yes, my daughter’s 18 months old now, so that came in the first year of my injury so, there was this time where I sort of went through a couple of months where I really had to think about what kind of man I was, where do I fit in society and I didn’t want to be one of the people that stands there just pointing out the problems I wanted to be part of one of the team I see working on the solutions.

Peter Greco: Well Ryan, we wish you well and of course the election is in march and you’re number 3 on the legislative council ticket with Kelly number 1 and Diana Bleby number 2, So as I said we wish you well, thank you for speaking to us and I’m sure that you’re going to be a great asset to the Dignity Party leading up to the election, thank you again for your time and good luck with whatever you do.

Ryan Mann: no, no thank you for your time, you have a good evening Peter.

Peter Greco: Ryan Mann there, candidate for the Dignity Party number 3 on the ticket for the legislative council, of course the election coming up in March 2018, and there’s been a lot about eligibility in the past couple of month so who know what will happen in March next year, maybe 2 members in the legislative council for the Dignity Party, the state’s got to be a better place for it doesn’t it.