Michelle Lensink

Mr Maurice Corcoran

Acknowledging the contribution of Mr Maurice Corcoran.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I rise to support the motion of the Hon. Kelly Vincent,
acknowledging the contribution of Mr Maurice Corcoran AM, particularly in relation to his efforts in
ensuring accessibility to public transport. I would like to acknowledge his presence in the gallery.

At the outset, I would like to endorse the comments of the Hon. Ms Vincent and the
Hon. Mr Gazzola in their speeches on this motion. Mr Maurice Corcoran is known to a number of us
and has been known to a number of us over many years. When I worked for the Hon. Robert Lawson,
a former member of this chamber who was the minister for disability services, Mr Corcoran was a
frequent visitor to our offices, so it was quite some time ago that I met Maurice. He has been on this
task for a significant period of time. I think Ms Vincent's and Mr Gazzola's speeches outline that very
well.

One of the other areas in which Mr Corcoran has been very active, which South Australia
has made some progress on, has been the implementation of disability action plans, which are very
important. I think we still have some way to go on that front, but he certainly kickstarted a lot of the
debate in South Australia. I know that the Hon. Ms Vincent and Mr Corcoran are great supporters of
universal access principles, which will be of great benefit to all South Australians if we can get those
principles embedded into the design of a whole range of areas in which everyone will then be able
to access services in South Australia.

Mr Corcoran's story is reasonably well known in terms of his injury in the South-East some
time ago, which left him a quadriplegic. He certainly did not take the issue and just decide that that
was going to be the end of it. He saw it as an opportunity and has become a very strong advocate in
that time. He has been commended, receiving an AM and also receiving the award which is in the
title of the motion, that being the Lesley Hall Leadership Award, which was provided on the occasion
of the 10th National Disability Awards.

Some of his achievements in the transport area have been to upgrade the City South tram
stop, which many of us would have used, and train stations with new platforms and accessible buses.
I think it is fair to say that a number of people benefit from those upgrades, not just people who use
wheelchairs but people with other mobility issues such as people who use devices such as sticks or
walking frames. It is also important for people who are pushing prams that those changes have been
made. Clearly, prams have wheels, and by using two feet you can get around many more spaces
than you can if you are using wheels or a mobility device. Those things have been really important.

It is also really important to acknowledge Mr Corcoran's contribution in the role of the
Principal Community Visitor, both in the area of mental health and in disabilities. These come under
different statutes of legislation. I read both of the most recently available annual reports from 2015-16,
and I note Mr Corcoran's comments that the legislative framework that enables visitations for
disability services are not as robust as the legislative provisions in the Mental Health Act.

I would like to thank him for not just the role that he plays in those very important areas of
advocacy for people who are often unable to express themselves, or may not even understand the
rights they are entitled to, but for highlighting it in very thorough reports. As an independent statutory
officer, he is to be commended for providing very thorough reports. I note his comments in the
2015-16 disability report, that the regulations:

…have been in place…for three years but are not as effective or as robust as the legislative provisions that
are contained in the…Mental Health Act…because they do not provide the same coercive powers to visit facilities
without notice but this has not impacted on the CVS in fulfilling its role and I am pleased to report that we have not
been prevented from visiting any facility.

That is important to note because I think, particularly with the NDIS, there are going to be a whole
range of new services that may well be provided, and I think we need to ensure that the Principal
Community Visitor has access to all of those into the future. That is an area that we probably need
to review as a parliament.

In relation to his role as the Principal Community Visitor for mental health services, equally,
that is a very thorough report, and I would like to also acknowledge his role in that. He said in the
annual report for mental health:

I especially want to acknowledge the many patients and families who have raised issues with us and trusted
us to follow up and advocate on their behalf. This takes considerable courage, especially when individuals may feel
vulnerable due to their specific circumstances.

He has also gone on to report his frustration in relation to reporting particular matters to local health
networks and that there has been considerable delay in investigative reports being returned from the
public mental health services. I say this, and I am not trying to politicise the motion in any way, but I
think that the significant role Mr Corcoran has played in the exposure of the problems with Oakden
services does need to be acknowledged.

I think it is fair to say that he was a regular complainant or regular reporter of problems there,
and he certainly fulfilled his duty. I think we are all very disturbed about what has taken place in those
services and are grateful for the fact that he has been persistent in raising these issues with the
government. Clearly, he is carrying out his role very comprehensively in this space.

Perhaps I could have amended the motion to also acknowledge the work that he has done
as the Principal Community Visitor. It is a very important role and he does it very effectively. With
those few words, I commend the motion to the council

 

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