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.

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