Media Releases

Oakden: appalling culture of abuse and neglect must end

Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent

Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent says today’s announcement that the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service will be shut down is welcome news given the rampant culture of abuse, restraint, neglect that has characterised this service for too long.

“It is a damning indictment on our mental health system that older South Australians with mental illness and dementia have been subject to what amounts to state-sanctioned abuse, restraint, neglect and sub-standard care,” says Kelly Vincent.

“When our loved ones are placed in the care of the state, in a wealthy country like Australia, it is reasonable to expect that they will be provided with world-class care, not suffer abuse, neglect and violence. People at Oakden appear to have had their conditions worsen, rather than improve.

“This report highlights all of us, as a community, must maintain a watching brief with any residential or hospital environment where people with mental illness, dementia or disability that impairs their ability to communicate, or report, abuse.

“The archaic practices and lack of respect for basic human rights in this service sickens me, and I hope the incidents and complaints being further investigated by police and SA Health result in swift action being taken against any proven perpetrators.

“The stories of physical restraints, overmedication, neglect, unsafe, unhygienic and confusing environments, and poor staff culture that have emerged in this report make for harrowing reading.

“I congratulate the families of those that have spoken out for their family members, and the statutory officers and journalists that have doggedly pursued this case to seek justice for the people that have been wronged at this facility.

“I note that SA Health states that it will consult with the families of people at Oakden about where they will live after the place is shut down, and this is welcomed. However, I call on the government to ensure that the residents themselves are also consulted by SA Health about transition to other facilities. After years of disempowerment and neglect at the hands of others, the residents must be finally involved in the decisions that affect their lives.

“I also call on the Premier and Treasurer to allocate funds in the upcoming state budget to build a facility that will meet 21st century health care standards and meet all of the recommendations made in this report,” said Ms Vincent.

The report and SA Health response can be accessed via the SA Health website here.