Wednesday, 21 February 2018
State election: Independent parties overshadowed in news coverage
Tom Jordan: Continuing our State Election coverage, we turn our attention now towards Independent parties currently being overshadowed in news coverage. Today we’re speaking with a key member of the Dignity Party, Kelly Vincent. I think the first big question is, what does the Dignity Party represent?
Kelly Vincent: We started off as Dignity for Disability. We’re a political party founded by a mixture of disabled people and family carers of people with disabilities and we changed our name to the Dignity Party to capture what we’ve always been about; representing and fighting for people who are marginalised for any reason – particularly disabled people, but whether it be because of age, cultural background, gender, sexuality and so on. We’re very much about fighting for people who are marginalised, showing that it doesn’t have to be that way and that we all benefit from genuine inclusion, both socially and economically.
Tom Jordan: What is your role in the party?
Kelly Vincent: I am a Member of the Legislative Council, the Upper House and I’m the sole representative of the Dignity Party in Parliament.
Tom Jordan: How did you first get involved with the party?
Kelly Vincent: I got involved in 2010 when I was fighting for a new wheelchair that I needed at the time, because of delays in funding provision and service provision, it was a long wait to get that, around 18 months. People are still very surprised when they hear that it does take that long to get something as essential and fundamental as a wheelchair for someone who needs it. So I started speaking at forums and conferences about that experience and through that I met the late Dr Paul Collier who was the President of Dignity for Disability (as it was), he asked me to stand as a candidate in the election and the rest is history.
Tom Jordan: Did you always have an interest in entering politics?
Kelly Vincent: I think I’ve always been a political animal, at least with a small ‘p’. I’ve always been very interested in social justice, always the person doing fundraisers for different charities when I was growing up, very socially minded.
Tom Jordan: What policies and programs have you been involved with since you were elected to the Legislative Council?
Kelly Vincent: The Dignity Party has played a major role in establishing South Australia’s Disability Justice Plan. This a program that makes the courts and police systems much more accessible to disabled people, particularly those who may need support to communicate. For example, if they are non-verbal or have a limited verbal capacity they may need someone who has undergone specific training to help them facilitate a conversation between a police officer, or a judge. They now have the legislative right to have that support provided. This is a massive step forward and very important. Disabled people are at least twice as likely to experience physical and sexual violence in our lifetime compared to those without disabilities. Unfortunately, part of the reason for that is that people know that they’re more likely to get away with it, if people don’t have that support to communicate what has happened to them. I’m proud to be a part of establishing the Disability Justice Plan and also very proud that other states are now looking to South Australia as a leader in the area of providing justice to disabled people.
We’ve also been a leader in putting universal design principles in our state planning law to make sure that all public spaces and buildings become more accessible over time as we have a rapidly aging population, we do need to make sure that we invest in universal design.
We’ve also been very pleased to secure important funding in the mental health space, particularly around supporting people with Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD. This is a very serious but very misunderstood mental health diagnosis, and ten percent of those with a BPD diagnosis will eventually die by suicide. So, by providing proper support to those people, dialectical behaviour therapy – for which there are currently enormous waiting lists – programs for DBT that are available in South Australia. And so, by providing this we can not only save money by stopping these people from repeatedly reporting to emergency departments but also save lives.
Dignity Party has also been instrumental in saving funding for the intensive home base support program which provides support to people facing a mental health crisis and it’s been proven through independent research to shorten mental health related hospital stays by ten days on average. We do know that staying in hospital can be very expensive, up to $1500 per person per day, so we can vastly improve people’s quality of life by getting them out of hospital.
And I’ve also been very pleased to secure funding to finally see South Australia secure changing places toilet facilities. These are highly accessible toilet facilities with additional features like an electronic hoist and adult size change table. There are around 14,000 South Australians that have a need for this at the moment, South Australia is one of the few states still not to have these facilities so I’m very much looking forward to seeing this brought in here. I think it’s a very important investment I’ve been working very hard to make sure that we make this a win for South Australian manufacturing in terms of building those facilities as well.
Tom Jordan: Who are some of the other Dignity Party candidates on the ballot for March 17?
Kelly Vincent: In the Upper House we have a team of four candidates including myself, Diana Bleby who is a small business owner and she provides some great perspective around the National Disability Insurance Scheme challenges, then we have Ryan Mann who is a man with a spinal cord injury and then Esther Simbi who is a woman from a refugee background with a disability and also a single parent. So a very wide range of candidates from all walks of life. In the Lower House we have people like Richard Challis representing the seat of Chaffey, Madeline McCaul, a trans-gender woman representing that sector. We have a high number of women candidates but also young candidates as well all across the state and given there’s disillusionment in the community about politicians and political candidates people just don’t see themselves represented. We’ve really made an effort to connect with people and bring in people who do represent a wide range of walks of life.
Tom Jordan: What key areas does the Dignity Party feel need to be improved on that aren’t currently being addressed by other parties?
Kelly Vincent: I think the Dignity Party has carried the weight of other parties and even the Federal Government in helping to improve and ease the NDIS transition. In fact, it was through the Dignity Party media release that some months ago, the Federal Government even found out that there was an issue with the transition in terms of the IT crashing and leaving many service providers without payment and disabled people without access to the funds they needed to access. I think that really shows the importance of our voice in Parliament when we are lobbying on something that is ultimately a Federal responsibility.
In terms of seeing the economic and social benefits of future proofing our State things like changing industries, manufacturing and also providing opportunities for those who have left Holden and things like manufacturing mobility aids, assisted technology, things that we’re going to need increasingly as our population ages. I’ve been very proud to be a leader and we’ve also been a key voice in advocating for easy access to safe and effective medical cannabis for people who are in chronic pain so there are a number of areas that I think we are really representing including that universal design principle I mentioned earlier, that other parties, unfortunately, just aren’t touching.
Tom Jordan: Where can we go to find out more about the Dignity Party or show our support?
Kelly Vincent: Our website is dignityparty.org.au my website is kellyvincentmlc.com.au you can also find me on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, so I’m very happy to hear from anyone but also if you want to contact my office directly call 8237 9543.
Tom Jordan: Thank you very much for speaking to us this morning.
Kelly Vincent: Thank you Tom.