Kelly in the Media

Kelly Vincent – 5AA Interview on International Day of People with Disability, Accessible Toilets and SA Pathology Job Cuts

Andrew Reimer: Kelly Vincent, you had a busy day yesterday, you had your rally in town?

Kelly Vincent: We certainly did because today is International Day of People with a Disability but it being a Saturday most of the celebrations or events to mark the day happened yesterday so that more people could attend. We were very pleased to hold the second annual Disability Pride Parade which is an opportunity for everyone in the disability community to get together and celebrate how far we’ve come in terms of advancing our rights, from fighting forced sterilisation of women in particular with disabilities, institutionalisation, but also how far we have to go. From being able to access the local shops to getting an equal education and lots of other issues as well. So I was very happy to be one of the speakers there at the parade talking about some of the work that Dignity for Disability has done, from universal design to education, the justice system, to accessible car parking and so on. And also to be joined by other speakers including the Lord Mayor who spoke about working very hard to bring changing places, accessible bathrooms, to the City of Adelaide. So lots of good work has been done but lots more is on the horizon.

Andrew Reimer: Martin Haese is a fabulous Lord Mayor, he’s very proactive when it comes to helping the disabled and other disadvantaged communities as well.

Kelly Vincent: Indeed. And we work together quite closely as I did with Stephen Yarwood and I’m happy to work collaboratively with anyone I have to to get positive changes. I’m really looking forward to hopefully in the New Year being able to tell you about the changing bathroom that we’ve brought to Adelaide. So changing places are accessible bathrooms with a few additional features including an adult-sized change table and an electronic lifter and this is really important because people who continence issues or need assistance with personal care are either very limited in the places they can visit or they’re forced to change on the floor of a public toilet.

Andrew Reimer: It’s terrible and it takes away from a person’s dignity.

Kelly Vincent: Especially with our ageing population it’s really important that we look at these things as an investment and I’m really glad the City of Adelaide and in particular the Lord Mayor understand that. So we’re hoping in the New Year we’ll have some big news in that regard and when we provide adequate facilities, respectful facilities, for people with disabilities we’re actually providing them for everyone and there are people who are maybe elderly or have an injury or had an accident, who experience these issues and that’s why it’s so important that we look upon these things as an investment in making sure people can access the public spaces, far into the future. And also so that we as a community can reap not only the social benefit but also the economic benefits as well. Obviously the more accessible facilities we provide the more people can get out in the community and spend their money and time and generate revenue for the state and for the country. And that has certainly been proven in those states including Victoria where changing places have been taken up at a much more rapid rate than South Australia. So I’m really looking forward to changing that

Andrew Reimer: When it comes to jobs here in South Australia and SA Health Pathology job cuts, you’ve been talking about that in question time?

Kelly Vincent: I have. I put some questions to Health Minister in the last few days about some flagged cuts to SA Pathology jobs. I understand that the Government is planning to cut some 278 jobs from SA Pathology and this is quite concerning particularly given that pathology is involved in up to 80% of medical treatment decisions and 60% of Australians will require pathology services at least once a year if not more. So we think this is a really concerning decision. We’re also concerned that from information that I understand when the new Royal Adelaide Hospital opens

Andrew Reimer: If it ever opens.

Kelly Vincent: Call me an eternal optimist but I understand that because of these staffing changes sputum samples will need to be split between two sites, the new Royal Adelaide and Frome Road. So I’m not sure how that will result in efficient delivery of results or testing so it may well be the case that will need to more efficient service provision but I’m yet to be convinced. And again, similar with the changing places issue, we have an ageing population and people need increased access to the health care so we think there’s a clear case for more pathology jobs and not less, not fewer.

Andrew Reimer: Exactly right. The general feel out there in the community with it comes to the transformation of health isn’t a positive one and people are very much up in arms against it. The same within the medical fraternity as well who believe that we have been going the wrong way when it comes to the transformation of health and we’re going to be worse off as a result. The Health Minister I noticed was on during the week, he was talking up the statistics about people being seen … much quicker in emergency departments as well, waiting times were down but where do you rate it and your understanding of the information that you have at your disposal?


Kelly Vincent: When it comes to Transforming Health there are certainly some aspects that I think are very noble and quite achievable. No-one out there in the community would dispute that we want our best care first time, every time. However, there are other aspects of the proposal that just don’t seem to be working in practice. Dignity for Disability is lobbying on many of those including the fact that the neonatal intensive care units at the Flinders hospital was first flagged for closure under Transforming Health but due to lobbying from Dignity for Disability as well as some activists in the community we managed to reverse that decision. So clearly the Government hasn’t got everything right. And we’re also very concerned about changes to Hampstead and moving spinal cord injury services to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. A lot of people I’ve spoken to who are directly involved in spinal cord injury care or have acquired spinal cord injuries themselves have told me that this will not work in practice because there will not be enough room to provide the same facilities available at Hampstead. So making sure everyone has an ensuite bathroom, which might sound like a luxury, but when you have acquired a spinal cord injury having that quick and easy access to a private space where you can take care of those needs but also learn bladder and bowel care in a private facility is really important. So there’s lots of concerns about this project and we continue to lobby on those to make sure that what we do get does end up being workable for everyone in the community


Andrew Reimer: I’ve got a message here from Annette who lives in country South Australia that says: ‘Can you mention that disability is for country people as well.’


Kelly Vincent: Absolutely and I wouldn’t dispute that for a minute. In fact many people with a disability do live in regions particularly Port Pirie where there’s a big group of the autism community but this is exactly why it was Dignity for Disability that had lobbied to save palliative care services in Mount Gambier which were flagged for closure. So we certainly do have a focus on regional and rural areas and I believe that SCOSA has also been working, or has brought a changing places bathroom to Clare. So there’s certainly a lot happening in the regional areas and we do continue to work in those areas as well because it’s really important to remember that disability knows no geographical, economic or any other boundary. So we’ll continue to work to make sure that the regions remain on the radar as well.


Andrew Reimer: Good on ya.