Michelle Lensink

Glenside Hospital

This speech is in relation to the Glenside Hospital and a letter sent to the premier indicating particular concern.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (20:00): To sum up, I think the only parallel here is not the process but the parallel universe that this government seems to be living in. The number of stakeholders I referred to in my speech previously who have expressed their concern and outrage at this decision has been added to by the Australian Psychological Society. I would like to read into the record their letter to the Premier which must indicate their particular concern.

I am grateful for the break in proceedings in debating this motion because I was personally very disappointed with the Minister for Mental Health's contribution in which I found she quite manipulatively misrepresented my position. She tried to indicate that I was some sort of reprobate in terms of mental health progress, and she would be well aware because I am sure that some smart alec in her office has sifted through every comment of mine in the public domain and, if they had actually bothered to record that accurately, they would be aware that I have said that we support reform but we do not support the selling of open space. I will return to those remarks in a moment but I want to read this letter from the Australian Psychological Society:

Dear Mr Rann

Re: Glenside Hospital Redevelopment and James Nash House Transfer.

I am writing on behalf of the Australian Psychological Society (SA Branch) to comment on the plans for the redevelopment of the Glenside Hospital site and the transfer of forensic mental health services (James Nash House) to Murray Bridge. We acknowledge and support the government's intention to modernise mental health services in South Australia and to provide more options in the community.

Glenside Hospital

At the same time we are deeply concerned that a large portion of the Glenside land is to be sold to fund these services. We question the justice and wisdom of this decision and we support the comments of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (The Advertiser, 27.11.07). The inner south-eastern suburbs of Adelaide are well provided with retail and commercial space in this vicinity, for example, the expanded Burnside Village, and the Fullarton Road and Greenhill Road commercial precincts.

Social Justice—

it is interesting that the APS needs to remind a Labor government about social justice—does not require the provision of more shops and offices in this area. In contrast, there is very limited land available close to the CBD for health and community services.

If the Glenside land is privatised and parcelled out for commercial ventures it can never be re-established. As Adelaide expands, future mental health services on this site will be crippled by space restrictions, as there does not appear to be provision for any additional or expanded services suggested by consumer and professional groups. Rather than attending a central hub whenever specialist services are required, future clients, families and health professionals will have to travel longer distances for some specialist services.

James Nash House

The proposed transfer of the James Nash House service to Murray Bridge raises more immediate issues for forensic mental health clients (who like any other mental health clients are people with illnesses and a need for care). Relatives and legal advisers will have to travel long distances to visit patients and provide the support required for justice to be served and rehabilitation to be achieved. Skilled specialist staff are hard to retain in the public system already and most private practitioners work in the city; the commute to and from Murray Bridge will not assist the taxpayer.
We believe that city and country taxpayers are increasingly aware that a devastating mental health breakdown is no different from a serious car accident, in that it can happen to any family in any community.

For some people, a brief engagement with specialist services is all that is required. For others, a lifetime of support and rehabilitation will be necessary, and patients and caregivers need at least occasional access to central specialist services as well as to local services.

We acknowledge the major financial issues involved in building newer and better specialist health units. We note, however, that there is no proposal to sell half the space available on the Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Hospital site to fund the development of the other half, or to site the MJNH at Gawler or Murray Bridge. Taxpayers and investors will fund this physical health service in an accessible location. Social justice requires the same for mental health services.

We appreciate that you are working hard to reform and support services for people with mental illness in South Australia, and we would like to discuss the proposed developments with you. Meanwhile, we would like to emphasise the crucial importance of building up, rather than taking away from, the range of services and amenities available to this very disadvantaged group of South Australians.

We request that you delay a final decision on the Glenside sale and the James Nash House transfer, and instead provide 'bridging finance' for the Glenside development and new community-based services. If that is not possible, we believe that reducing the size of the Glenside land sale and reserving some land for new or expanded services would be a responsible step on behalf of future generations of South Australians, and welcomed by voters and taxpayers.

We hope that this will be the beginning of a constructive dialogue about assisting people with mental illnesses, and we will be more than happy to respond to consultation at any time.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely

A/Prof Jacques Metzer, PhD FAPS

Chair, SA Branch, Australian Psychological Society.

That is dated 15 February 2008. I could not have put that better myself. I did not have that letter at the time I gave my previous speech, but I think it underlines all the reasons we have moved to establish a select committee.

For the record, I found the minister's comments patronising. I believe that she has taken the usual tactic of ministers opposite who, when they cannot play ball, decide to play the man or the woman.

 

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