Oakden buck stops with me: SA premier

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has taken ultimate responsibility for the abuse and poor care inflicted on patients at a state-run nursing home.


Ahead of meeting with some family members who blew the whistle on the problems at the Oakden facility, Mr Weatherill has again backed Mental Health Minister Leesa Vlahos for her handling of the issue.

But the premier also acknowledged the serious failings at the centre and said he took ultimate responsibility.

“I have to. This is part of the mental health care system that should be providing the best possible care to the most vulnerable citizens,” Mr Weatherill told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s providing sub-standard care and, in some cases has actually had direct abuse going on.

“I have to accept responsibility for that.”

Mr Weatherill said there had been multiple failing of all the checks and balances put in place in the mental health system, and described the revelations of the treatment of elderly dementia sufferers at Oakden as “distressing”.

In his investigation, SA’s chief psychiatrist uncovered the rough handling of patients, an excessive use of restraints, and a concerning level of injuries.

Ms Vlahos said there had been a culture of cover-up among staff at Oakden, which will now be closed.

But the opposition, medical groups and some families accused the government of ignoring previous warnings about care at the home.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists said the poor treatment of patients at Oakden was also part of a bigger problem.

“It reflects a whole service that has had deficits in governance over a long period of time,” RANZCP President Malcolm Hopwood said in a statement.

“Resulting in neglect of resourcing and an absence of a workable model of care.”

Professor Hopwood said the SA government should invest in new facilities and develop a new model of care, based on those elsewhere in Australia and globally.