In the Media

Kelly Vincent’s End of Year Wrap Up with Peter Greco

Peter Greco: Well it’s been great throughout the year catching up with Kelly Vincent, she’s the member for the Dignity party in the Legislative Council and she’s on the line. Hi Kelly.

Kelly Vincent : Hi Peter how are you.

Peter Greco: Pretty good. Do you get a bit of a break over the Christmas / New year or do you soldier on?

Kelly Vincent : I will get a couple of week, I must admit I am really looking forward to it so I can recharge the batteries and get ready for the hustle and bustle of the election campaign and hopefully return to Parliament next year.

Peter Greco: How do you see the year what are some of the good things or bad things from 2017 from your point of view.

Kelly Vincent : This year has been another great year in the Dignity Party. I’m particularly proud that we have presented to the Parliament an alternative in the way the education system supports and responds to students with identified and non-identified disabilities or learning differences. This has been a long term campaign with the committee that I have been chairing for the last couple of years or 18 months or so finally reporting to the Parliament and that brings forth great ideas to finally improve the social and academic experiences of students with disabilities in all the sectors of education here in South Australia both public and Catholic as well. This includes things like incorporating more goal orientated negotiated education plans for students with disabilities, moving forward in terms of skills and teaching kids disability how to regulate their emotions how to invest in that so they can concentrate more on the work and so on.  This is a really important area because we know that when students with disabilities are under-invested in their independence is lessened therefore they need more taxpayer funded support and they can even more interaction with the criminal justice system. This kind of investment is really important and there’s been a great need for that and I’m looking forward to seeing those recommendations acted on in the coming years.

Kelly Vincent : Other measures include of course the justice system more widely. The Dignity Party has been a great voice around the justice system for many years now with the disability justice plan.  But I’ve been very pleased to say that in the last few weeks the Parliament has also supported changes to ensure that young people under the age of 25 whether or not they have a disability who make a one-off mistake that is minor, that mistake can no longer be visible to future or current employees against their record. That’s very important because where a young person has made a mistake that might not be relevant to the current or future employment. It’s really important that we give them every possible opportunity to be seen for the skill set that they do have rather than being judged for one mistake that they’ve made in their past. I’m hoping that those measures will have a great impact on improving their employment prospects and therefore their social and economic determinants far into the future.

Kelly Vincent : We’ve also been successful; I know you’ve been very keen Peter this year about the changes around electronic voting that have come into force this year where blind and vision impaired people will finally have the choice to fill out their voting ballots independently and autonomously and privately using electronic means rather than relying on either postal votes or for someone to do that ballot paper for them. So I think the vote-assist program is going to hopefully lead to a lot of blind and vision impaired people to be more independent but also again have that option there and hope that will increase the level of blind and vision impaired people voting in the first place.

Kelly Vincent : It’s been a really exciting year for democracy all up but I think the key if I had to pick one, the key thing that I’m most proud of this year is our negotiation with the Treasurer to ensure forty-one million dollars of new money in health and disability sector particularly mental health and disability to instate some new programs particularly in the treatment of borderline personality disorder with money to instate a specific program a Centre of Excellence for people with borderline personality disorder.  Which is a very common but very maligned and misunderstood mental health diagnosis. It is one that has a  10 percent on average suicide rate. So investing in this will not only safe lives but save money in the long run by keeping people out of emergency departments into employment into the community because they can be supported and more stable.

Kelly Vincent : Alongside that we have also negotiated funds to reinstate an existing program that was very successful and yet lost funding in the last couple of years and that was the Intensive Home-Based Support Service (IHBSS).  IBHSS is essentially a program to allow people facing a mental health crisis to get support wrapped around them in the home very quickly, to hopefully stop them from going down the trajectory of crisis with a need to present to hospital maybe even be hospitalised for days at a time and this program has been shown on average to shorten their mental health stay by ten days on average. Not only is this a great saving in terms of people with health and well-being. It’s a great financial saving as well because we know that staying in a hospital or even just presenting to emergency department on average cost I think about fifteen hundred dollars per person per presentation. So this is a great way to save money and again save lives and hopefully improve quality of life as well. So those are some of the changes this year alone and I’ve been very pleased to spearhead that I think will improve and save lives and ultimately save the bottom line as well.

Peter Greco: Now, there’s obviously not going to be any parliament sitting before the election itself. But what about some of the challenges that are ahead of you in the next three months or so.

Kelly Vincent : Well, the challenges ahead for a small grassroots political party like the Dignity Party are significant. You and I have spoken previously Peter about the fact that the major parties have colluded together to increase candidate fees for people standing for election. Now for a political party representing in particular people with disabilities almost 50 percent of whom live at or below the poverty line. That increase of candidate fees is a significant barrier and a signficant challenge for us and while we have got the government to agree to lowering those fees somewhat in the lower house the fees are still significant and the Upper House fees remain at three thousand dollars per person per candidate. So these are a significant challenge and also to get media on the the types of issues that we are talking about which are often overlooked not only in government but in the general population as well presents a significant challenge.  So those are some of the challenges that we face. But again with the hard work, the profile that we have managed to build and hopefully maintain over the last few months both in the mainstream media, in community radio stations like yourself, Vision Australia Radio here and social media as well plays a really important role, so, anything people can do to like share and spread the word all adds up to spread that very important message.

Peter Greco: Kelly enjoy your Christmas break it’s obviously very very well deserved. We’ll catch up with you in the New Year. I know the people I speak to think you’ve done a fantastic job I know I might be speaking to the converted or preaching to the converted but it will be very exciting to see how the election rolls out on the 17th of March, we thank you again for your time you and your team have a great Christmas break and we’ll catch up with you in 2018.

Kelly Vincent : Likewise to you and your listeners Peter and thank you to all of the air time that you’ve given me throughout the year to talk about some very important issues and I’m very passionate about. I very much appreciate that and look forward to returning next year.

Peter Greco: Thanks Kelly.

Kelly Vincent : Thanks Peter.

Peter Greco: Kelly Vincent there, the Member for the Dignity Party in the Legislative Council. Well certainly March 17 will be a very very interesting day in more ways than one and also a big day today in Sydney with the by-election of Bennelong.