Kelly in the Media

Kelly Vincent – 5AA interview on the 2016 Disability Pride Parade and Cuts to the South Australian Amputee Limb Scheme

On Sunday 27 November, Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent was interviewed on radio station 5AA to discuss the Disability Pride Parade, which is being held on Friday 2 December 2016 and the cuts to the South Australian Amputee Limb Scheme were also discussed. Here is the transcript from the interview.

Andrew Reimer: Kelly Vincent, you’ve had a good weekend?

Kelly Vincent: I have. I was at a wedding and I had a busy weekend last weekend, I was at a Donate Life event for people who’ve become organ donors in the last year and also supporting their families and before that I was opening at film screening for Deaf Can Do.

Andrew Reimer: I notice you’ve got a march coming up this Friday.

Kelly Vincent: Yes. The 3rd December is International Day of People with Disabilities so we’re having an event on 2nd December which is the Friday, a disability pride parade. This is the second year that we’ve done it and we’ve taken the idea from a parade that happens in New York. The idea is to get people with a variety of disabilities out on the streets marching and being strong and proud and showing how capable we are but also to talk about some of the issues and the barriers that we continue to face in the 21st century world. So I’ll be speaking and the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Martin Haese will also be speaking and we’re also in the process of confirming some other speakers as well. We’ll be meeting at Parliament House at 10am on 2nd December and then we will be marching down to Victoria Square because there’s some events for International Day that are happening at Victoria Square. We’d love for people to join us and wear purple and bring the passion about any issue that you want us to continue working on in the community to improve access for every person with disability. Come rain or shine our disability pride certainly continues.

Andrew Reimer: What else is on your radar?

Kelly Vincent: In the last few days we’ve become aware of some issues around the funding of the South Australian Amputee Limb Scheme, which is the scheme that provides prosthetic limbs for people who have experienced an amputation.

Andrew Reimer: No pun intended, but is there going to be some cuts to this scheme?

Kelly Vincent: My understanding of the situation to date is that they have a $2 million budget to provide those prosthetics to people but because there’s been an increase in the number of amputations, particularly as a result of diabetes, I was just reading, that it’s estimated that 4,400 Australians have an amputation every year due to diabetes alone, that doesn’t take into account amputations due to other illnesses or diseases, accidents, injury and so on so it’s certainly a great number of amputations still continuing to occur which is a great concern and because of that the limb scheme is having trouble providing enough services within its budget and my understanding is if they can’t get additional funding to continue this service they’re going to have to stop providing things like primary shower prosthesis, so the prosthesis you might need to wear when you’re in the shower or in the water. Also medical activity and recreational activity prosthesis for outdoor walking and that sort of thing, and also general prosthesis will only be supplied within the available budget, so once that money runs out which is going to appear to be pretty soon it looks as though we’re going to have a lot of trouble getting any kind of prosthesis for anyone who needs it so we’d love to see the Government step in and make sure that this very important service has some money.

Andrew Reimer: That’s just so wrong – how can they deny that service to people who have had a limb amputated?

Kelly Vincent: Particularly given that we have over 4,000 people having an amputation each year in Australia due to diabetes alone. So it’s a massive, massive community and you might think things like a shower prosthesis or one for medical activity or recreational activity might be neither here nor there but if you can’t shower or bathe safely without the appropriate limb to wear, particularly if you’re a leg amputee, that could have some very serious consequences for your safety and your health and of course general limbs as well will only be supplied while the money is still there and once that allocated budget for the year has been reached, which from the information that I’ve been given that it will be very soon, those requests will have to be declined as well. So very big community very much at risk here.

Andrew Reimer: I just had a young person, 18 years old on the program, and is an advocate for illicit drug use. I used the argument that when it comes to illicit drugs that if you are prepared to break the law then you’ve got to accept the consequences and you have got to waive the right to be able to use our emergency services, our doctors, our nurses because you have broken the law and I look at amputee’s services to people who genuinely need tax payers’ money for their benefit and they’ve been ill, the victim of an accident, they need this money…

Kelly Vincent: I think the role of Government is to make sure that we’re responsible economically and socially and innovative enough to find ways to fund everything that the community needs and not having heard that previous part of your program it’s somewhat difficult for me to respond.

Andrew Reimer: …take it for granted I’m right.

Kelly Vincent: Of course, always! But we have to be careful as well to look at some of the reasons that people might turn to illicit drugs, sometimes it’s not as simple as you might think. There are people that just break the law or do the wrong thing because that’s what they want to do but there are many people who use drugs for a variety of reasons.

Andrew Reimer: I’m talking about illicit drugs.

Kelly Vincent: This is why I think harm minimisation and education and making sure that people are supported, they have good connections to community and positive mental health is really important because often people turn to addiction when they’re isolated and feeling like they have no other option and I totally agree with you in so far as there are many people that don’t always do the right thing but I think particularly in Government we’re here to serve everyone in the community we need to make sure that we’re putting in place the underlying supports as well that might actually stop people from turning to drugs and other coping mechanisms in the first place. What I would love to see is a Government that is innovative and responsible enough to fund all kinds of programs.

Andrew Reimer: There’s only so much money to go around and if people are doing the wrong thing then why should we support them? Why should we as a society help them?

Kelly Vincent: I’m not saying that there’s an endless bucket of money. I’m simply saying we need to support everyone in our community who needs our help and find innovative ways socially and economically to do that and that’s exactly why I think we need to look at things like Ministerial cars or even funding things like machinery for war and things that certainly don’t fund a healthy positive community. There are many other places we could look at rather than taking away from people who maybe are experiencing poor physical and mental health. I completely get what you’re saying that there are people who do the wrong thing and they need to face the consequences but I also think it’s more nuanced than that and particularly within Parliament we have a responsibility to make sure that we legislate and put in place policies and budgets that can respond to those nuances.

Andrew Reimer: Interesting SMS from Ed ‘maybe the people that have to have amputated limbs should look at their lifestyle – what they eat, drink, or get medical insurance instead of buying a packet of smokes. I’m no angel but don’t expect a hand out from the Government.’

Kelly Vincent: It’s interesting, because as you were talking about people who use illicit drugs. I was actually thinking to myself that I’m sure some people would make the same argument about people with diabetes and there we have it. There’s a variety of views but I think we need to find ways to support anyone that needs assistance to the best of our ability and to make sure that they are able to provide for themselves without having to take away from each other all the time and this is exactly the problem that particularly the disability community have experienced for so long is that we’ve had to fight over crumbs of money and funding buckets and that’s exactly what has created that division. I think we could invest a lot more in primary health and lifestyle education and so on to prevent diabetes but of course we’re always going to have people who either through their own choices or through accident or other injury that isn’t self-inflicted in any way we need to make sure we’re still providing this very important service. As far as I’m aware there’s no criteria for this limb service scheme that says it matters whether or not your amputation was in any way brought on by your lifestyle so it’s really important that it’s able to continue to run providing those prosthetics to everyone who needs them so they can be as healthy and safe as possible.

Caller Mark: I’ve had mental illness for 35 years and I’m on appropriate medication but recently they’re trying to change the [unclear] and I now have damage to my heart. It’s taken so many years of my life and I’ve got no come back and that’s distressed me. How do they allow for those things to go on all the time? They can put you on a drug, make you sign a waiver and say you could be dead sooner than later.

Andrew Reimer: Kelly, do you want to respond?

Kelly Vincent: It’s difficult for me to respond not knowing exactly the situation and I’m certainly not a medical practitioner but I’m really sorry that you’re experiencing that and if there is anything more direct that I can do for you in some of the services or supports that you need please feel free to contact me through my office.

Andrew Reimer: Thanks as always for your time.