Oakden families hail new inquiry
Advocates hope national Royal Commission can force reforms, protect patients Now it’s about change, moving forward so SA and Australia can create a better level of aged care, so no one has to go through what we went through.
FAMILIES who blew the whistle on the Oakden aged care scandal say a new national Royal Commission could be the “game changer” which triggers critical reform to stamp out abuse.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the Federal Government will hold the most powerful inquiry possible into the sector, in a bid to uncover how widespread problems are.
Terms of reference for the commission are being developed, but Mr Morrison said there was a “distressing trend” of expected standards in aged care facilities not being met.
“I think we should brace ourselves for some pretty bruising information about the way our loved ones, some of them, have experienced some real mistreatment,” Mr Morrison said. “That’s going to be tough for us all to deal with. But you can’t not look at it.”
Clive Spriggs’ father Bob Spriggs suffered unexplained injures at the Oakden aged care home. His case led to SA inquiries including a probe by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which made maladministration findings and also included highly critical reflections on the conduct of former Labor minister Leesa Vlahos.
Mr Spriggs said the national commission could be a “game changer”. “It’s not about us anymore,” he said yesterday.
“We’ve been there, we’ve lived it. Now it’s about change, moving forward so SA and Australia can create a better level of aged care, so no one has to go through what we went through.”
He said ensuring adequate training for carers should be a key focus of the inquiry, which should deliver interim recom- mendations as it progressed so that reform was not delayed.
Stewart Johnston, whose mother Helen accused Oakden staff of repeated assaults in 2008, said CCTV monitoring should be used to deter abuse and provide evidence to prosecute offenders.
“In common areas, it should be mandatory, and facilities should be open in allowing families to put it in a private room if they wish,” he said. “In the case of privacy versus abuse, I know what I would be choosing and I think I know what the residents would be choosing as well.”
He said the commission should re-examine Oakden, so matters which SA’s ICAC was forced to deal with in secret be fully exposed to the public by an inquiry with greater power.
SA Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the State Government would “co-operate fully” with the commission, and the Oakden disgrace had raised broader questions.
“We are the oldest state in mainland Australia ... this is a good time for a stocktake to make sure that we can improve what is there now, and make sure we’re ready for what’s to come.”
VOCAL ADVOCATE: Clive Spriggs is a spokesman for Oakden victims, which included his father, Bob.
IDEAS: Stewart Johnston, son of an Oakden victim.