Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

Strathmont Centre

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the minister representing the Minister for Disability questions regarding the Strathmont Centre.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: On Sunday 3 April this year the Sunday Mail reported that the Minister for Disability admitted she was unaware of the inappropriate living conditions at Strathmont, one of the government’s only institutions for people with intellectual disability. In the same Sunday Mail report the minister said that she was unaware that people were being locked in their rooms at night, was also unaware that some rooms did not even have light switches and was unaware that people did not have appropriate toilet facilities. These comments were in stark contrast to those made by the minister less than a week earlier on radio 891 ABC, when she spoke about the high staff ratios at Strathmont and said that Strathmont had not been run down.

It is indeed a sorry state of affairs when we have a minister who is simply unaware of what is happening in her own institutions. It is not acceptable that the minister, who is responsible for the care and support of these people, had not, until last week, so much as visited the centre and, frankly, cannot keep a handle on her own institutions. If she cannot do this I am loath to think about what else is happening out there in the community.

In Victoria there exists a community visitor scheme, where community visitors are able to visit any premises where disability service providers are providing a residential service. These community visitors act as a watchdog of sorts, and report on the quality and standard of care and support that is being provided to residents with disabilities. My questions to the minister are:

  1. How could the minister possibly believe that she is fulfilling her duties as Minister for Disability when she is unaware of the conditions in her own facilities?
  2. If the minister concedes that she is not fulfilling her responsibilities, which she must, will she step down as Minister for Disability?
  3. Does the minister acknowledge that a community visitor scheme could possibly have brought these issues to light in a much more expedient and acceptable manner? If so, will the minister then support my private member’s bill to establish a community visitor scheme which is soon to be introduced into this parliament?

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I have a supplementary question. Is the minister able to inform us as to any action being taken (if any) to ensure an upgrade of the standard of care in the interim, while this move out of Strathmont is being completed?