This speech is to move that a select committee of the Legislative Council be established to inquire into and report on the state government's proposed sale and redevelopment of the Glenside Hospital site.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17:36): I move:
1. That a select committee of the Legislative Council be established to inquire into and report on the state government's proposed sale and redevelopment of the Glenside Hospital site with specific reference to—
(a) The effect of the delivery of services by the proposed co-location of mental health, drug and alcohol, rural, regional and state-wide services and the possible security implications;
(b) The effect of the proposed sale of 42 per cent of the site and its impact on the amenity and enjoyment of open space for patients and the public, biodiversity, conservation and significant trees;
(c) The impact of the reduction of available land for more supported accommodation;
(d) The effect of the proposed sale of precincts 3, 4 and 5 as identified in the state government's concept master plan for the site and its possible effect on access to the site and traffic management generally;
(e) The proposed sale of precinct 4 by private sale to a preferred purchaser; and
(f) Other matters that the committee considers relevant.
2. That standing order 389 be so far suspended as to enable the chairperson of the committee to have a deliberative vote only.
3. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council. 4. That standing order 396 be suspended to enable strangers to be admitted when the select committee is examining witnesses unless the committee otherwise resolves, but they shall be excluded when the committee is deliberating.
I begin my contribution by looking at some of the history of mental health in South Australia. An instructive article written by Professor Robert Goldney, professor and head of the Discipline of Psychiatry at the University of Adelaide, was published in Australian Psychiatry last year. It is entitled 'Lessons from history: the first 25 years of psychiatric hospitals in South Australia'.
One thing of which honourable members may not be aware, which I was quite bemused by on one of my visits to the Old Adelaide Gaol, is that when South Australia was first established in 1836 it was not deemed necessary that South Australia would need to have a gaol and, as a result, when people were being disorderly, they were detained in the Adelaide Parklands by marines from The Buffalo, and what is known now as the Old Adelaide Gaol was subsequently built.
The opening of Professor Goldney's article quotes George Santayana who said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In looking at the history, in 1841 a paper was issued concerning people with mental illness being detained in the gaol and it states that it was the practice to keep any lunatics, which is what people were unfortunately referred to in those days, who were difficult to manage in the Adelaide Gaol. Further concern was expressed by the colonial surgeon, Dr James Nash, who I understand gives his name to the current forensic mental health facility, that there were eight male and four female lunatics segregated in the gaol in December 1845. But the governor's response was that no funds were available for more suitable accommodation.
This led to some public outcry which in turn led to planning for a new psychiatric hospital, and that was located on grounds which were close to what is now the Royal Adelaide Hospital. An article, which was published in May 1849 in The Adelaide Times, referred to the planning of what was known then as a lunatic asylum and it stated:
But to speak seriously, we would ask why do not our officials, who know nothing of such matters themselves, ask the opinion of persons competent to advise.
I refer to that because it is something that has been raised, particularly by the College of Psychiatrists, in relation to the concept master plan of the Glenside Hospital.
A description of the operation of the new lunatic asylum—which, as I mentioned, was located close to the Royal Adelaide Hospital—was, for some reason, sent to the International Exhibition of 1862 in London. The observer, a Mr Frederick Sinnett, came to the view that the building was too small but that the grounds were large and soothing, and those grounds were more than suitable as a place for people who had mental illness. The building itself was described as a place of confinement, not containing enough 'lightness and cheerfulness' and, on the grounds themselves, 'there appears to be a lack of means of recreation and employment.' I will go on and quote more extensively. Mr Sinnett stated:
Force is entirely disused, there not being a single straitjacket or similar relic of barbarity. A large number of the lunatics work in a vineyard, orangery and garden of about 10 acres in extent, which has recently been very usefully added to the establishment, and the superintendent assured me that, though the lunatics here work with axes, spades, pickaxes, and other tools, which half a century ago anyone would himself have been thought mad to put in madman's hands—
I apologise that this language is rather archaic—
no accident or attempted violence has resulted. When I visited the establishment the dinner hour was approaching, and in most of the wards tables were laid out with knives and forks, and no apprehension of ill consequences appeared to be entertained. There was less noise and fewer outward manifestations of insanity than in other asylums that I have visited elsewhere, and, indeed, in one or two cases, the lunatics addressed me in such rational styles and complained of the hardships of being confined when in full possession of their faculties, that it was only by recollecting the total absence of all motive for confining people unnecessarily long in a public asylum, that I was able to overcome the impression that injustice was being done. Fewer people, than at other asylums that I have visited, came forward with the wild, incoherent stories and fancies, though, of course, such cases were not wanting.
He goes on to say:
The lunatic asylum is not large enough for the requirements of the place. On the occasion of my visit, there were 171 patients, and the Colonial Surgeon said that they had been obliged to put some of them to sleep in the corridors although, in the majority of the cells there were two beds, and they had also made the experiment of the dormitory with eight or 10 beds in it.
The article then goes on to refer to the establishment of Glenside, which was known as the Parkside facility. In this article, Professor Goldney states:
The perception of governments not listening is also as pertinent today as it was 150 years ago. Initial professional concern appears to have been ignored prior to the establishment of the first psychiatric facility. Furthermore, when a more substantial psychiatric hospital was built, there was public comment about the lack of consultation with 'persons competent to advise', and there was also contention as to whether it should have been situated adjacent to the only general hospital in the colony, or whether it should stand alone.
This has particular relevance in terms of the contemporary debate about the success or otherwise of mainstreaming patients with mental disorders into the general hospital system. Although in the early 1990s it was stated that 'the mainstreaming of acute psychiatry to general hospitals offers a new opportunity for the profession to reassess itself', it is increasingly apparent that there have been unwanted consequences. For example, a diversion of liaison psychiatry expertise from general wards to overcrowded emergency departments has been noted, and 'long waiting times for beds and an inadequate physical environment in which to contain psychiatric patients has led to the use of both chemical and physical restraint' to an increasing degree.
There is a reference to the Senate select committee and the most recent review and plan for mental health reform with the cautionary words:
...there is some unease reflected in the conclusion of the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health that there are limitations, because the environments of general hospital wards can be less than therapeutic for seriously ill people in disturbed states...
With changing design standards, general hospital sites—with a focus on short length of admission (average of three to five days)—will struggle to provide the space and tranquillity that facilitate effective treatment for people with serious mental illness.
Just on that point, I am grateful to the minister and her staff for facilitating briefings and site visits at a number of our mental health facilities in the state. The one in particular that I would have to say shocked me was the facility at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
That shock was mainly because of the physical environment. The B8 Ward is located at the top of a multi-storey building at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. There are dormitory-style rooms for both men and women, which means that there is not even a curtain to provide privacy between the patients. If they want to go downstairs to have a cigarette, one of the staff is taken off the floor to accompany them. There is very little space for recreation.
One of the general complaints that I have had from people who have been in acute facilities in our metropolitan hospitals is that they get bored. I understand that people enter those sort of facilities in a metropolitan hospital largely because they might have had an acute episode and they might need to be medically stabilised, but that is quite different from a lot of the other medical conditions in hospitals, in that a lot of these people are physically well and ambulatory, and they need things to occupy their time.
I understand that in ward B8 they stay only three days or so, but in this day and age I was quite shocked—that is the word I choose to use—that that is a way in which we attempt to assist people with mental illness to get better.
Then there is ward C3, which is on the ground floor of the same part of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The first thing that you notice when you go in the doors is the smell. It is a very strong cigarette smell. There is a smoking room at the end of the ward which is used extensively by the patients. I understand that funds have been provided so that it will become a way to exit to the outside, and that will be located opposite the Botanical Hotel and will probably be quite pleasant.
It is a dingy place; it is a smelly place. There is very little there that encouraged me that it was a therapeutic environment for people to recover from mental illness. I make those comments in relation to those quotes.
I will refer again to Professor Goldney's article, in which he states:
It is of interest to reflect on the number of beds available in 1862: 171 for a population of between 130,000 and 135,000 people which represents a bed availability of approximately 125 per100,000 population.
He also says: Naturally there are issues of what actually constitutes a bed (e.g., whether it is for acute or rehabilitation or community care).
However, the difference in ratios there is quite stark. I would add that bed numbers are also a separate issue from the environment as I have just described the acute mental health wards at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and ask whether that should be considered sufficient for people with mental illness to get better.
In his concluding remarks Professor Goldney states:
Although the architecture of the Adelaide Lunatic Asylum may not have been as modern as desirable, even for the 1860s, the buildings were associated with gardens and space which allowed patients freedom of movement. Indeed, the environment described by Sinnett appears to have been marked by a sense of tranquillity which is hardly consistent with modern psychiatric institutions that are often housed in inappropriate situations in general hospitals.
I refer to the Margaret Tobin Centre, which is often held out as a modern facility—and it is. It is very nice in comparison to older mental health wards but, again, it is located within, I think, Flinders Medical Centre. It is fair to say it does not have a lot of extra space and, while there have been allowances made for people to go outside and there is some nice landscaping and barbecues and so forth, I think that the people there would benefit from additional open space.
I refer to more recent history, and that is the Cappo report which was squeezed out of the government because of a leak internally in February 2007 and which was used extensively to ward off questions in this place about what was happening with Glenside.
I would again like to refer to the work of Professor Bob Goldney, who delivered the Barton Pope Lecture in October 2007, which is a treatise on suicide prevention. He is quite scathing of the mental health system in South Australia. He poses this hypothetical question:
If psychiatric illness requiring hospitalisation is the most important contributing factor to suicide, could there be something about the provision of services in SA that may be influencing the suicide rate?
He refers to coronial recommendations, the workload on staff and bed availability. He says, 'We are informed that our bed availability is adequate.' Worldwide availability is 44 beds per 100,000 population. He alleges that the government of South Australia is apparently trying to get our bed ratio down to 22 per 100,000, as is the case in Victoria. He also refers to the blockages within our acute hospital situation, which is something that I think has been dismissed by various members of this government, and also refers to optimum bed use, stating:
Risks are discernible when average bed occupancy rates exceed about 85 per cent...acute hospitals can expect regular bed shortages and periodic bed crises if average bed occupancy rises to 90 per cent or more. There are limits to the occupancy rates that can be achieved safely without considerable risk to patients and to the efficient delivery of emergency care.
He then talks about the Stepping Up report and the Glenside redevelopment. He put to the audience, 'Is this simply another in a long line of government reports and announcements?' He states:
It must be important: the Premier announced it; there were full-page advertisements in The Advertiser and The Courier; there was a letterbox distribution of glossy brochures in surrounding suburbs.
Then, in the PowerPoint slides, there are pictures of the Stepping Up report and the Glenside Concept Master Plan. One of the subsequent slides is of a book (which I have read myself) by Don Watson, a former Labor adviser, called Weasel Words. He says:
Consider the words used: Stepping Up—the state government concept master plan for SA specialist health services; mental health, let alone psychiatry, disappears from the title. Definitions: concept—idea, general notion. Master—person having control, to overcome, to reduce to subjection.
Then he quotes the minister and her weasel words, as he puts it:
An exciting and innovative new concept master plan; rejuvenate this important site; modern, world class; first class; purpose built; major and exciting reform; mental health system should be rebalanced; our valued health workforce.
I think that particular notion was well and truly poked in the eye last year, when the psychiatrists were so desperate for better conditions and were disparaged by one of the Department of Health bureaucrats for being greedy when, in fact, all they wanted was their fair pay. Under 'Valued workforce' he states:
Minimal consultation with the profession; no consultation with clinicians at Glenside—
and I would add that the James Nash House relocation decision took place without consultation with clinicians either—
Invitation to attend launch sent by email at 5.35pm for 9am the next day— hmm!—
Secrecy surrounding the announcement was...?
Then he goes on to say:
Similarity to: announcement of the move of forensic psychiatry facilities to Mobilong. No consultation; widespread community concern, including that of the legal profession.
The final slide I will quote from is his headline asking, 'Does the Glenside plan address access to community care or to acute beds?' It states:
A 10-bed increase in secure mental health care beds; no increase in intensive care beds; no increase in acute care beds; no indication of integration with community services and continuity of care.
He says that the politics of mental health is driven by ideology rather than solid research-based policy. That is quite a scathing assessment by Professor Bob Goldney, one of the pre-eminent psychiatrists in this state. I was tipped off about the announcement of the concept plan in September last year by, of all people, a staff member at Glenside. It has become an increasing occurrence that whistleblowers who work within the system have been contacting my office with information because they are so appalled at what has been taking place.
From my quick reading of it (which turned out to be as horrific as I had first thought), a large part of that site was to be sold off. While the document refers to 'healing gardens', as the member for Bragg has put it, the healing gardens will probably be about the size of a handkerchief. The concept master plan can be found on the website. I add that we are not opposed to redeveloping the site. I think it is commendable, but the fact that this government cannot redevelop it without selling off such a large part of it is deplorable.
The new 129-bed hospital will be located in precinct 1, which is at the northern end, and at the north-west end there will be wetlands and an open space. A number of different services will be located in that hospital. In our briefings we have not been able to ascertain whether it will, in fact, be one building or whether there will be distinctive separations. The reason that is important (as the College of Psychiatrists has described) is that this mix of patients is a potent mix in that there are 40 secure mental health rehabilitation beds—and for people who are not aware exactly what that means, they are located in a closed ward—and there will be some open beds, as well.
The residents of Helen Mayo House, consisting of six mother and infant acute mental health beds (who are a very vulnerable client group), will be located there, as will the 23 rural and remote acute mental health beds. Again, a group that can be quite vulnerable. There will be 10 intensive care beds (which is comparable to the client group currently at Brentwood) and also 30 Drug and Alcohol Services beds will be relocated. I think that includes an additional eight beds. Drug and Alcohol Services are currently located at three prime real estate sites: one on Osmond Terrace at Norwood; one in Joslin; and one in North Adelaide. This hospital cannot be built without the proceeds of those sales.
Precinct 2 is in the centre and contains the heritage buildings with which many people would be familiar. We have been advised in briefings that that announcement—whether that is an arts precinct or so forth—will be made by the Premier. Although, given the way that the publicity surrounding this proposal has been going, he might be running a mile from that one. Commercial precinct No. 3 will contain shops and so forth. Precinct 5 is mixed medium density housing, which could be two to three storeys and, on my rough calculations, based on the hectareage, could mean some 400 new dwellings, including the 40 supported accommodation places peppered throughout. Small provision exists for open space between precinct 5 and precinct 4. One of the issues that has been quite controversial has been the issue of precinct 4.
Contradictory statements have been made by the government, and it has said that it will look for the best available price, yet it is not going to open tender. An individual assessment of the value is being made. Many people would be familiar with the Foodland site, and it was admitted to us in one of those briefings that the first offer to that group was 'unusual'.
[Sitting suspended from 18:01 to 19:47]
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Before the dinner break, I had been talking about the Glenside concept master plan. As part of that process (and in some rather florid discussions) consultation was promised by the government, and I will refer to that subsequently in my speech, particularly in relation to some of the correspondence with local residents and with the City of Burnside. Those promises, I believe, led members of the community to believe that they would have some genuine input into the open space design and a whole range of other issues.
The release of the concept master plan raised a number of issues with different stakeholders. For patients and families there has been some uncertainty as to the continuance of services, particularly for the aged residents who will no longer be able to access a service at Glenside. Quite a number of those appear in one of the most recent briefings—I think that number was about 120, but I am not sure where that is up to.
The briefing we received from the department advised that there would be three avenues for those aged-care residents: one would be to mainstream nursing homes, which would be provided with the support of a unit within the health department; another avenue would be to the Oakden Nursing Home; and another would be returning to the community, and understandably that has concerned a number of families.
More recently, since the release of the concept plan in September last year, a number of families have received letters from the government advising that their loved one will need to be out of there by Easter. In a former life I worked for the aged-care sector. A proprietor member of the association of which I was the CEO (which was then known as Anheca) contacted me probably six to eight weeks ago. That member had taken in one of these tricky residents whom I think had been accepted from the Lyell McEwin Health Service. That resident may otherwise have been placed in the Glenside aged section. I am grateful that the minister's office—indeed, Derek Wright—got onto that case fairly quickly, but it typifies what could be extremely problematic for what we call mainstream aged care in that they do not have the expertise or the resources to manage very complex mental health clients.
The story was related to me about this particular chap who was placed at a nursing home in the northern suburbs from Lyell McEwin Health Service. He must have been attached to a MAC team. The MAC became increasingly less interested in assisting the nursing home when he would have one of his episodes. Frequently, he would become violent to the point of tearing off a fire door which, for the remaining residents and their families, would be a huge cause of concern.
Part of the difficulty that mainstream nursing homes have is that they come under the regulation of the commonwealth government, which has very strict rules about the way in which residents should be treated; and, indeed, family members have greater input into the way in which their relative is treated while they are in aged care.
One of the issues which arose and which was different from when this chap was in the Lyell McEwin Health Service is the amount of input the family had. They did not like him to be medicated, and that led to his becoming violent and having these episodes, whereas when he was in the Lyell McEwin Health Service they were able to manage him with his medication. I cite that as one example of which I am aware where mainstreaming people into residential aged-care providers, funded by the private or not-for-profit sector in South Australia, can be quite difficult. Also, I will talk about Oakden as a potential for receiving residents.
The issue of rehabilitation has been raised by patients and families of people who have been or are currently in Glenside. I have heard of a case of a lady whose son was on the waiting list. He has since been bumped off the waiting list (because there is no longer a waiting list), and he will not be able to receive rehabilitation services. When family members spoke at a meeting last month they raised the loss of open space, and the healing impact that open space, trees and the natural environment has in assisting people to recover from mental illness.
Another stakeholder group is psychiatrists and their staff. The Royal College of Psychiatrists is unanimously opposed to this development. In my earlier contribution I cited Professor Bob Goldney's article about people who do not have the expertise to understand the decisions they make. He was referring to developments some 150 years ago in mental health and, clearly, this applies today. The Royal College of Psychiatrists was not consulted on this development. Indeed, it would not have been consulted on the decision to relocate James Nash House, either.
The issues it has raised include the lack of open space which, as Dr James Hundertmark says, 'has a proven role for people with mental health issues'. It is also concerned about the grouping together of diverse groups of people within a single service (including Drug and Alcohol Services) and the sale of open space. It believes it is a recanting of Mike Rann's promise when he told South Australians before the last election that Glenside would remain open. In an article in The Advertiser in November last year, Dr Hundertmark said:
Our college has no interest in allowing shopping centres, housing developments or wetlands to encroach on what is akin to a sacred site for mental health in South Australia.
So, their point of view is very clear. They are also very concerned about the post-acute stage of people with mental illness, in that there will cease to be places for those people to recover, particularly those who are chronic resistant and who need closer supervision than the average (if I can call it that) mental health patient and closer supervision than is supplied by the government's current proposals for other step-down facilities.
A lot of mental health medications have some pretty difficult side effects, so some people need an extensive period of being monitored before the health care system can be sure that they are on the road to recovery—indeed, some psychotic patients will take up to four months. They need a consistent environment and they need their medication, and it is difficult to provide such a service in an acute setting, particularly places such as the Royal Adelaide Hospital, as I described earlier.
Another indication to me that the staff within the mental health system are highly dissatisfied is the increasing number of leaks and anonymous phone calls and emails that I have been receiving from people who work within Glenside, James Nash House and other parts of the mental health system. They are clearly afraid to speak out, because they know that they will not be treated kindly by this government. I recently received a letter from a former nurse who worked there (I am sure she will not mind me mentioning her name), Miss Flora McDonald, who now lives in New South Wales. In her letter she said:
It is with a sad heart that I read in the print media of the demise of part of the grounds of the Glenside Mental Hospital. I began my nursing career at this wonderful hospital, known then as Parkside Mental Hospital, in 1946, and spent 3¼ years, very happily, training as a psychiatric nurse under the tutorship of eminent medical specialists and senior nursing tutors. Dr Hugh Birch was medical superintendent. Male and female patients were nursed separately and patients were rehabilitated and returned to society after successful medical or surgical treatments. The loving care and compassion given to the mentally ill by all staff has remained in my memory ever since.
The beautiful hospital grounds provided rest, exercise and sporting activities for the patients and staff. To realise that these lovely grounds will be subdivided and used by suburban developers fills me with much sadness. Why can't the entire area of buildings and grounds be classed as a heritage place? This would allow the place to always be a reminder to me, and other staff, on my return visits to my home state, of how the mentally ill were nursed and cared for instead of the present action of allowing them to wander our streets in all states, obviously lacking so much needed care and attention.
Concern has already been stated about the number of mentally ill patients being sent to gaol where unskilled staff are expected to care for them. Will the proposed 129 bed specialist hospital provide the necessary care for the mentally ill? As for creating Wetlands in part of the grounds when South Australia so desperately lacks an adequate water supply beggars belief! Trusting this information may be of some interest to you. Yours sincerely...
Local residents have obviously been concerned as well, and I think that they have been the scapegoat for the government's attempting to dismiss the concerns of so many stakeholders. We had the farce of the two public meetings in October, where the residents were invited to participate in this so-called consultation process, and yet they were told unequivocally that it is non-negotiable. So, I wonder whether the negotiable parts of the plan will be whether to have hedges of viburnum or hibiscus (and I say that in jest). What does 'consultation' actually mean?
The council and local residents have huge concerns that a ministerial DPA will be slapped on them and that they will have no input whatsoever. Their concerns relate to open space, the sale itself (particularly of precinct 5), and the lack of information—and, indeed, in the public meetings, no information has been forthcoming. I think the confidence of all these different stakeholders in this entire process has worsened since the original announcement, because it has been handled so incredibly poorly. There is a yawning gap between the promises and fine words that are in the published documents compared to what has taken place. If anybody is in any doubt as to the compassion and concern of some of the local residents, this is from one local resident, who states quite eloquently:
I am concerned about safety and best practice for mental health patients—what supporting evidence is there that this model will be best for them? To minimise the mental health facility in a sea of high density houses and shops does not seem an improvement on the current situation. The current hospital site offers a magnificent setting with wonderful open space and natural wildlife, which is so special to be available for mental health patients, and would be so much more of a benefit to their mental health than being amongst houses and a shopping mall. There is also wonderful future potential at this site for any future mental health needs, which would be lost forever if the current redevelopment proposal goes ahead.
I completely agree with that last point: it is a crazy move on the part of the government to lock away forever any future expansion on that site. One of the people who attended one of these so-called consultation sessions wrote to The Messenger Press and, in a letter titled 'Glenside talks', she states:
I was one of the local residents who accepted health Minister Gail Gago's recent invitation to discuss the Rann government's decision to sell off 42 per cent of the Glenside Hospital open space land. Despite the intimidation and red tape of actually getting into her office, I persisted, as I wanted to hear the minister speak on the subject. Thus far, the minister has refused to front any of the three recent public meetings held to discuss this matter. I was disappointed that all we heard at this ministerial meeting were 'sound bites', and that the decision was 'non-negotiable'. Whenever questions got tough, the minister's minders, or Health Department officials, took over the talking. It was a most unsatisfactory meeting. I urge people to register a protest at this forced removal of long-term patients of Glenside Hospital and the distress this has caused their families and of the loss of our open space land for yet another shopping centre and land division. Remember, once the 42 per cent of open space is gone, we can never get it back.
Members might note that I am quoting a lot. I am quoting from other people for several reasons: first, because I think they put it in very eloquent terms; and, secondly, because we have been accused—as Liberal members who have genuine concerns about this—of politicising the issue when in fact a huge range of stakeholders have come forward, put their names on the record and expressed their disgust and outrage at the proposal and at the process.
The City of Burnside wrote to the minister on 18 October last year, stating, in relation to this concept master plan:
Unfortunately, given the significant lack of information and detail in the concept master plan and the manner of its release, informed council comment on the proposal cannot be made at this stage. The council would appreciate the provision of the following additional information...
There are some 12 dot points, which I will not read out in their entirety, but they relate to the proposed residential redevelopment in precinct 5; proposed wetlands and open space; details of the hospital and health services to be provided; details of the office and commercial development in precinct 3; details of the village green and open space; details of the shopping centre development in precinct 4; details of the use of heritage buildings in precinct 2; details of the overall road network; details of the broader open space management; details of proposed administrative security arrangements; details of the outcomes of the consultation undertaken on 4 October and to be undertaken on 23 October; and details of proposed methodology of future consultation. The author then expresses an interest in other potential purposes for the site, including dementia services, a community facility in one of the heritage buildings and sporting and recreational facilities such as a skate park.
The council received a reply on 30 October from the minister, which is the date the minister met with Mayor Wendy Greiner. The minister states that residents, staff and community members are able to influence the look and feel of the site and talks about a range of urban design issues. I will quote this paragraph, which sounds to me very like Sir Humphrey Appleby. It reads:
To capture this input, the South Australian government has established an exhaustive and extensive community engagement process—a process that goes well beyond the minimum statutory requirements. In fact, the process is in line with best practice community engagement methods internationally and is designed in such a way that community members have an opportunity to input in a constructive way.
On the second page the minister gets into the subject of what can only be described as hubris in her description of the way the so-called community consultation meetings organised by the government took place. She says:
Large, open floor forums have been found to be susceptible to being dominated by highly vocal people who are comfortable making speeches in front of large audiences. Genuine consultation needs to be structured in a way that avoids manipulation. I am advised that at the recent Listening Event on Tuesday 23 October 2007, and via subsequent phone calls, my department was approached by Burnside residents who expressed their dismay and disappointment with those who disrupted the constructive session.
Further, the project team advise me that of those who attended last Tuesday's session and participated in the workshops the project team received 301 constructive comments, while they received only four inputs once the format changed to a large open floor forum. I am pleased that the Department of Health has put a community engagement process in place that will allow us to hear from the many—rather than the few.
A few people at that meeting (including myself) might think that we were in completely different or parallel universes. I attended one of the meetings—admittedly probably for the first hour—and was sitting up the back, and I have to say that I heard a great deal of murmuring from a large number of people who looked to me to be genuine community members rather than professional stirrers. If you do not believe that from me, one of the locals, who rebuts the minister's claims, says:
The reason only four inputs were received in open forum was that the mental health staff in control of the meeting only allowed four people to speak before turning off the microphone and terminating the public meeting even though others were waiting to speak, thus attempting to stifle discussion. Their treatment of the people of South Australia was contemptuous...After the microphone was switched off, the meeting resolved overwhelming[ly] on the voices the following:
• no-one wanted the development to go ahead in its current format;
• no-one present wanted the open space sold;
• no-one wanted the elderly mentally ill evicted from Glenside; and
• everyone wanted a public meeting to be organised by Burnside council so that views on the facility could be properly expressed and shared.
Indeed, The Advertiser reported that particular meeting as a 'sham'.
There was a huge number of questions and comments from the residents—some 43 of them—and seven resident resolutions, and if I was feeling like being troublesome I would read all of them. However, in view of the hour of the evening I will not; I am sure the government has seen them, and they are available for anyone else who would like to see them.
The council has, of its own volition, put a number of resolutions in relation to its concern, and at this stage I think it is still concerned about the lack of information. If you do not have information how can it be construed that you have been consulted at all? The council believes (and I agree) that the upgrades to the Glenside site should be funded from government revenue rather than from the sale of land. Indeed, the City of Burnside sought a meeting with the Hon. Paul Holloway as Minister for Urban Development and Planning, and I would like to quote from that quite recent letter. It is dated 13 February and titled 'Glenside Hospital Redevelopment: Burnside community feedback'. The letter reads:
Thank you for agreeing to meet with...and me on 19 February...However, some of the elected members are extremely disappointed that they could not be included in our discussions on the redevelopment and raise the concerns on behalf of their residents.
I take it that it is Burnside council that has been excluded from meeting with government ministers. It continues:
The council and community continue to be disappointed that the Premier is unable to receive a delegation. Council supports the upgrade and refurbishment of Glenside Hospital to meet the current and future needs of South Australian mental health patients. There is the need to provide an increased level of support for the ageing mentally ill and the projected population increase as recognised in South Australian Strategic Plan.
That is a very good point. I am very sceptical that the current number of beds caters for existing needs, let alone future needs. The letter goes on:
There are significant community concerns regarding the project, in particular, loss of open space, safety (including impact on nearby schools), integration with adjacent residential areas, traffic access and egress, loss of significant trees, ministerial DPA proposed mix of services, and the lack of genuine community consultation.
The use of ministerial DPA processes will be viewed with concern by many of the community. As the project proceeds, commercial-in-confidence procurement processes will hide relevant details from public scrutiny...The council has not been provided with any details regarding the residential, commercial and retail development proposals—in particular, dwelling density, floor space, height, subdivision patterns, landscaping, stormwater, security, impacts on State Heritage buildings, built form design themes, traffic and parking, and integration with adjacent development.
The final paragraph of the letter asks the Minister for Development and Planning to reconsider the proposed redevelopment.
All honourable members would be aware of the issues that arose in the mental health sector over the Christmas period, in particular, young people being placed in backpacker accommodation because there was nowhere else suitable or appropriate for them to go. Indeed, the government-run supported residential facility known as Palm Lodge had accommodated a couple of young people for some time but, due to that facility's own rules, they were not able to stay. Those young people needed a safe roof over their head and, in my view, the mental health system in this state let us down.
I became incredibly irate when the acting minister for mental health (Hon. Jay Weatherill) was barrelling on about this particular plan and saying there would be an increase of 86 beds. I think there are a number of ministers in this government who need to go and talk to the parents of some of the kids who are suffering from mental health problems. It would make the hair on the back of your head stand up and make you wonder what on earth we are doing, in this day and age and in a wealthy country like Australia, when these kids are left to fend themselves.
One mother who I have quoted on radio has a daughter who has got down to 35 kilos. Her mother does not know from one day to the next whether her daughter is alive or dead. This woman has made missing persons reports, and she is worried sick about her daughter. This girl has been placed in private accommodation, but those situations do not work because she has schizophrenia and she can be quite difficult for other young people to live with. She has spent some time in a backpacker accommodation situation, and that did not work out and, when that does not work out (what a surprise!) these young people end up on the street.
For minister Weatherill to glibly refer to '86 additional beds' as if that is going to solve any of the problems in the system I think is absolutely pathetic. As someone from the Left who claims that he is a social conscience, I say that, until he speaks to those parents and changes his mind, he has none.
We also have the situation of the Oakden nursing home, which is under commonwealth sanctions. Again, it is a facility that is run by this state government (as is Palm Lodge), and it has failed 26 of 44 commonwealth standards; it cannot receive new residents, and my office continues to hear horror stories coming out of that place.
This is a government that cannot run mental health facilities in other areas, and it is telling us that it has this fantastic plan for Glenside that is going to fix all these problems. It is just a joke. If Oakden nursing home is not able to accept new residents—and it is not—then how this affects the existing aged care residents on the Glenside campus makes the whole plan fall into disarray.
We had a bemusing announcement last week from the minister that there is a new reference group of 13 anonymous people, which I take as an admission of failure of the existing consultation process. The media release was entitled 'Community reference group to influence Glenside redevelopment', and I think 'influence' is a carefully chosen word, no doubt by some clever person in the Premier's media unit. It states:
Some decisions have been made by the state government in the release of a concept master plan...The community reference group is being established to consider a range of matters.
The government has not even disclosed who is on that reference group, so how they are supposed to be contacted by concerned members of the public is really anyone's guess.
Our general concerns are: the reduced area for the care of mental health patients; fewer beds overall in the system; the mix of clients who will be on the new site; vastly reduced open space for patients on the site, general public and local schools; traffic congestion; the entire consultation process; and that this department has obviously been told by Treasury and Finance that it has to get the money for itself, because, unless that 42 per cent is sold, there is no new hospital.
I find it extraordinary that this government wheels out Monsignor Cappo to say, 'Oh, yeah, yeah; you know, don't worry; the government's going to fix this thing', and yet cabinet and the Treasurer of this state cannot even grant additional moneys so that we can fund these developments in a proper manner, as they ought to be, without putting the blinkers on every stakeholder group which has some genuine interest and concern about what is taking place. I think this decision is an absolute disgrace and makes me quite angry. I will continue to fight it as long as I have breath in my body.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J. Gazzola.