In the Media

Moving residents from Oakden to Northgate / Opening of new arena for Riding for Disabled SA

Andrew Reimer: Kelly Vincent a couple of days ago you released a press release regarding Northgate and fairly scathing attack on the Government too, you’re not really happy with the way it’s all been handled.

Kelly Vincent: This is obviously a very complex issue with the move of residents from Oakden to Northgate and thankfully Northgate it does look like it will be a temporary solution which is good because we know that the Chief Psychiatrist, or now departing Chief Psychiatrist because he appears to have resigned, Aaron Groves, has recommended that this will need a purpose-built facility to get it up to scratch and will need a huge investment to get the purpose-built facility because at the end of the day these residents have been through more than enough and so we’re really hoping that Northgate will be a very temporary solution given that it’s not purpose-built, it doesn’t include those features like easy line of sight from the bedroom to the bathroom because obviously a lot of people with dementia can become very confused and find it difficult to navigate so all these facilities, all these features, are really important.

So last week we joined with the Opposition Shadow Health Minister Stephen Wade to call on the Government to inject into the state budget funds to ensure that we get that purpose-built facility and the next day there was an announcement that some $14 million will be made available for that but we still haven’t seen the plans for that facility but we’re definitely hoping it will live up to scratch and that the families and the residents are very much involved in that process as well because at the end of the day what we know is that it wasn’t just about the inadequacy of the building most of the issues came down to culture and the dominant culture at Oakden was one of abuse and neglect so it’s all very well and good to change the bricks and mortar but we need to make sure that we get that staff training and all that culture shift as well that ensures no-one goes through this horrific situation again.

Andrew Reimer: You mentioned the Chief Psychiatrist Dr Aaron Groves has resigned less than half way through his five year term – he’s going interstate. What do you read into that resignation?

Kelly Vincent: Obviously I don’t know, I haven’t had a conversation with Aaron about his reasoning but certainly it doesn’t bode well for the Government does it that the person who has in fact done this report damning what has occurred at Oakden has walked away before we’ve even begun to implement some of the solutions.

Andrew Reimer: I read it to be a vote of non-confidence in the Government.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely and I think that after these issues have been raised by various bodies like the Chief Psychiatrist, the Community Visitor Maurice Corcoran, the Public Advocate and other bodies as well for some ten to fifteen years I think you could be forgiven for losing confidence or just being frustrated and fed up with the entire process but like I said I haven’t had a conversation with Aaron about his reasoning but certainly not a good sign particularly when I think we do need that consistency from the person who has investigated these issues in depth to provide that guidance to Government as it moves forward in putting in place some solutions so I think it’s a big loss and it definitely doesn’t bode well for this Government.

Andrew Reimer: you were also up at O’Halloran Hill today.

Kelly Vincent: Braving the fog where Riding for the Disabled South Australia which is an organisation that provides horse riding for people with various disabilities opened a new arena to have dressage events and competitive events. I had the great privilege of opening that arena it was a great afternoon and RDA South Australia branch is one of those small organisations that does have some challenges financially as we roll out to the NDIS so I definitely encourage anyone if they’re able to put a few spare dollars toward an end of financial year donation to RDA so they can continue their great work – they support about 350 people at the moment across South Australia making sure they get physical and mental therapy from horse riding so some really fantastic work supported by some great staff and also 500 volunteers. I think that number of volunteers just shows what a great organisation it must be to work with.

Andrew Reimer: What also should be mentioned is the major sponsor – People’s Choice Credit Union, we need to give them an accolade as well.

Kelly Vincent: There are number of financial backers including People’s Choice, I think local council, also AdTrans, great to some philanthropic getting behind this important project as well.

Andrew Reimer: Good on you Kelly, keep up the good work.