In the Media

Dignity Party’s deal with the State Government over the bank tax

David Bevan: Kelly Vincent, good morning you’ve been in the State Parliament now for how long?

Kelly Vincent: Coming up to eight years.

David Bevan: Eight years and it’s gone quickly, hasn’t it?

Kelly Vincent: Time flies when you’re having fun [laugh].

David Bevan: Kelly Vincent, you’ve cut a deal with the Government because they’re desperate to get their bank tax through, now the Opposition have said they won’t support, that’s why they’re desperate to get somebody from the Crossbenches and they need one more vote now that they’ve got yours, but you said I will support the bank tax in return for what?

Kelly Vincent: In return for $41.5 million worth of investment in some of the most disadvantaged people in this state, including people with a disability and mental illness, particularly borderline personality disorder, which is a mental health diagnosis that affects up to 4% of the population and yet it is still very much misunderstood and maligned and 10% of those people will lose their lives to suicide, we can stop that with the right investment by modelling what is already happening interstate in New South Wales and Victoria and that’s part of what I’ve secured here.

David Bevan: Okay, what are the other deals? Let’s run through everything that you got for your support.

Kelly Vincent: So the other things include $1.7 million to reinstate the highly successful intensive home based support program to support people facing mental health crises to stay home, get that support, to shorten their hospital stays by 10 days on average, which actually saves money because as we all know to stay in hospital is incredibly expensive. So we’re actually saving money here in the long run. We’ve also secured $6 million to make sure we continue funding the Centre for Disability Health until 2022. Now this is a centre that provides healthcare to people with severe and multiple disabilities that simply don’t fit in the current mental healthcare system without this service people are actually at risk of not having GP appointments, of not having their healthcare needs met and dying prematurely or having worst healthcare as a result just lastly David we’ve also secured $1.7 million worth of grants for Changing Places facilities. So high level accessible toilets to ensure that the 14,000 South Australians right now who need that support to change or to have help with their continence can finally have dignified services and support.

David Bevan: And where will those facilities be, those toilet facilities?

Kelly Vincent: That’s something we’re negotiating at the moment. There’s a lot of call for in the CBD I’ve been negotiating with the Adelaide City Council for a number of years on that looking forward to seeing that progress very, very soon given that Victoria has at least 15 changing places across the state already we need to catch up; we need to properly meet the needs of this desperate population and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing here.

David Bevan: When did the negotiations start? Did you get a knock on your door one evening late in the parliamentary sessions and you opened it up and there was Tom Koutsantonis saying ‘oh Kelly I saw your light on’.

Kelly Vincent: Well I’m happy to say that my light is often on late into the night but this was of a morning a few weeks ago, a month or so ago the Treasurer came to me and said ‘can we talk?’ And initially can I say that he wanted to keep these negotiations completely private but I said to him ‘no, I want to be completely transparent’. I want people to know exactly where this money is going and I want people to know that it is going into improving lives and saving lives.

David Bevan: So when he said ‘I want to keep them private’ what exactly did he mean?

Kelly Vincent: He said he wanted to keep the fact that we were negotiating private and for these investments to appear like a happy coincidence, but because I’m an honest person, I’m a transparent person I was going to accept that and that’s why I’m sitting here this morning talking to you David.

David Bevan: Okay. Did you get everything you wanted?

Kelly Vincent: Well look I certainly believe – I’m just going to have a drink here, sorry.

David Bevan: Yes you have a drink. We’re talking to Kelly Vincent she’s coming towards the end of her 8 year term. Are you standing again in March?

Kelly Vincent: I am.

David Bevan: Yeah, so she’ll be standing again for her team at the next State election a lot of people will know you well from your public appearances and your advocacy work in the disability sector but a lot of people wouldn’t ‘who’s Kelly Vincent?’ What is your disability?

Kelly Vincent: I have cerebral palsy, I’m a manual wheelchair user.

David Bevan: I think we first met you because your wheelchair was too small and you were growing and we were trying to get you a new wheelchair.

Kelly Vincent: That’s right and I’ve always believed in taking every opportunity I can to improve the rights of everybody through my own experiences and that is exactly why I am sitting here talking to you about David.

David Bevan: Yeah, so you got the knock on the door with Tom Koutsantonis and you said ‘look everything’s going to be out in the open, I’m not going to play ducks and drakes here, everybody’s going to know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it’ so you got your deal, which is worth just over $40 million over 4 years.

Kelly Vincent: $41.5 million.

David Bevan: when you finished it did you think ‘oh I should have asked for more’?

Kelly Vincent: Well look I believe in making change one step at a time and I would rather pick a few things, a few major reforms that are going to improve lives and save lives and get those properly agreed to and implemented and then move on to the next change. It’s all very well and good to go to the Treasurer with a list of a thousand things or a million things David.

David Bevan: Which you could have done.

Kelly Vincent: Which I could have done but I tell you what there would be certain things that would be very important that would get lost in those lists, so I’d rather go forward with a few things that I know are going to make a real difference to the quality of life of thousands of South Australians and see those things succeed.

David Bevan: Is this the best thing you’ve done in 8 years?

Kelly Vincent: I’ve done a lot of work over the last 8 years and I think it’s difficult to pick one. I think up there is of course the disability justice plan, making the courts and police systems more accessible to people who need assistance to communicate to give evidence and therefore hopefully see more bad people get convictions for those crimes against some very vulnerable populations, but this is what my work is about every day – taking every opportunity I can to improve the lives of all South Australians and in particular those who for too long have been shut out, forgotten by community, forgotten by governments and are treated like second class citizens and I want those people to know that in my book they will always come first.

David Bevan: Is this a more sophisticated Kelly Vincent? 8 years in the Parliament you’ve learned a few things in terms of cutting a deal and negotiating. Do you feel more confident now in cutting these sort of deals and knowing where to squeeze and where to [laugh].

Kelly Vincent: Please don’t make me have that image of squeezing the Treasurer, that’s not pleasant at all, but can I say I think we’d both be worried if I was sitting here 8 years on from the time that we first met David and I hadn’t learned a thing. So of course I’ve learned, I’m human and I..

David Bevan: Yeah, but you feel more confident?

Kelly Vincent: I absolutely do and that’s part of the job, it’s part of growing into any role in any role in life, but as I’ve said I’ve always taken every possible opportunity to improve the lives of South Australians at every turn that presents itself to me.

David Bevan: We’re getting lots of texts. One says, ‘Bravo Kelly’. Another person says, ‘On behalf of all the carers we thank Kelly for her work. This will save lives of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder’.

Kelly Vincent: Borderline personality disorder.

David Bevan: Sorry my fault, borderline personality disorder, BPD and ‘at the same time relieve the stress and anxiety of carers that have been the default mental health system, trying to keep their loved ones alive’ that’s the truth, isn’t it, because it just falls to the family.

Kelly Vincent: That is absolutely the truth. In the time that I have been in office I’ve had two constituents who I have been in personal contact with who have taken their own lives because of a lack of proper treatment of borderline personality disorder and they are just two of many unfortunately, but it’s those people that I carry with me in my mind and in my heart as I sit here talking to you David and it’s those people that I carry with me when I spoke to the Treasurer if this was about a back room deal, anything to advance myself well I wouldn’t be sitting here talking about life changing services, we’d be sitting here talking about you know a wing at the new Festival Plaza with my name on it or, you know, a Changing Places facility at Adelaide Oval with my name on it. We’re not talking about those things, we’re talking about proven, evidence based on the ground services that will change lives, save lives and save money in the long term.

David Bevan: Jan has called

Caller Jan: look there’s just something I would like to say. I’ve struggled with BPD for the last 30 years and I just want to congratulate Kelly and her party on achieving this wonderful result for people with BPD, those of us who struggle with the condition and have trouble accessing decent services and all the views an opinions of health professionals. Kelly, thank you so much, this will make a huge difference, not only to me but to many others.

Kelly Vincent: Thank you Jan and thank you as always for your advocacy on this issue, you’ve taught me so much and it’s largely because of that teaching that you and others have given me that we’re sitting here having this conversation today, so thank you.

David Bevan: Now Vincent says, ‘David, why are you treating Kelly more gently than another politician?’ I think the answer to that question is that Kelly Vincent is answering my questions nd if any of the other Members of State Parliament would like to answer questions in a direct yes/no way and then with simple, straightforward explanations they’ll find that it’s a very gentle process, very gentle indeed. Kelly Vincent, thank you for coming in.

Kelly Vincent: Thank you David.