Cen­tre of empty prom­ises

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By LISA THOMAS

A LACK of heat­ing, hot wa­ter and pri­vacy are is­sues a former Shen­ton Park Quad­ri­plegic Cen­tre res­i­dent had to face while liv­ing at the fa­cil­ity.

Samantha Jenk­in­son, who is now the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Peo­ple with Dis­abil­i­ties WA, said the is­sues had been go­ing on for more than a decade.

The cen­tre was in the spot­light last week af­ter it was re­vealed the hot wa­ter sys­tem had been bro­ken for sev­eral days.

Ms Jenk­in­son said the na­ture and en­vi­ron­ment of the fa­cil­ity was very “in­sti­tu­tion­alised”.

“We have had com­plaints about peo­ple’s pri­vacy and choice be­ing re­stricted due to the na­ture of the build­ing,” she said.

“We be­lieve there are a num­ber of is­sues, some with the phys­i­cal build­ing it­self and the fact that it is get­ting very run down… we are con­cerned that there are im­me­di­ate is­sues that need to be ad­dressed to en­sure the safety of the peo­ple liv­ing at the quad­ri­plegic cen­tre.”

Last week’s 2016-17 State Bud­get al­lo­cated $500,000 to­wards a plan for the cen­tre’s re­de­vel­op­ment.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Mark McGowan said the State Govern­ment needed to do more.

“Set­ting up another com­mit­tee to look at the issue is just not good enough,” he said.

A cur­rent res­i­dent who did not want to be named said the Govern­ment was will­ing to al­lo­cate $18 mil­lion to the Scar­bor­ough fore­shore in the Bud­get but not fix the prob­lems at the cen­tre.

He said the loss of hot wa­ter was an on­go­ing issue, as well as power out­ages through­out sum­mer.

“Any de­cent per­son would think hu­man be­ings should take pri­or­ity over an area that is al­ready beau­ti­ful,” he said.

“They are al­ways promising the prob­lem will be fixed to­mor­row, but we are hav­ing the is­sues to­day.

“We are seen as a prob­lem, as non­hu­man to the Health Depart­ment, rather than hu­man be­ings.”

Shen­ton Park Quad­ri­plegic Cen­tre chief ex­ec­u­tive Shane Yen­sch said he had con­cerns about the build­ing and hoped the com­mit­tee would come up with a plan to fix the prob­lems. Health Min­is­ter John Day said he ex­pected an up­date from the com­mit­tee by the end of the year, with rec­om­men­da­tions that would help drive the es­tab­lish­ment of a new cen­tre.

Ms Jenk­in­son said another issue was that peo­ple with spinal cord in­juries were be­ing sent to nursing homes, rather than get­ting the sup­port to live in their own homes.

She said the fa­cil­ity was not a con­tem­po­rary model of dis­abil­ity sup­port and was iso­lat­ing res­i­dents from their fam­ily and friends.

I can­not imag­ine the pain of be­ing in an ac­ci­dent and no longer be­ing able to walk, make my­self din­ner or do all the things an able-bod­ied per­son takes for granted. So imag­ine how hard it is al­ready for some­one to phys­i­cally and men­tally deal with be­com­ing a quad­ri­plegic, and then add to that pain by liv­ing in a di­lap­i­dated build­ing with lit­tle pri­vacy or com­fort. This is the life res­i­dents at Shen­ton Park Quad­ri­plegic Cen­tre deal with on a day-to­day ba­sis, so why isn’t our State Govern­ment do­ing some­thing about it? The Govern­ment al­lo­cated $500,000 for the cen­tre in last week’s State Bud­get. It also al­lo­cated $18 mil­lion in that same Bud­get to the re­de­vel­op­ment of the Scar­bor­ough fore­shore, bring­ing the to­tal amount of fund­ing to $48 mil­lion. This is a se­ri­ous issue and one that can­not be taken lightly by our govern­ment hot wa­ter, pri­vacy and ba­sic health care is some­thing ev­ery­one de­serves. We need to be putting fund­ing into sup­port­ing those who need it, not to pay for a new statue or play­ground for the fore­shore.

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