HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY Tuesday, 17 November 2020 Page 3433/3434
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:24): Today, I would like to talk about the Wakefield Regional Council and the great work they have recently been involved with. Just recently, there was an incident where an elderly couple, who were both suffering from severe medical issues, had been living in a caravan at caravan parks in various locations across the Mid North and had been asked to move on from those parks by the operators and locals. I will not reveal their identities at this stage, because they did have some mental health issues and were really struggling. As I said, they had some medical disabilities. They eventually came to a historical Rochester roadside stop, between Clare and Brinkworth, just inside the Wakefield Regional Council boundary.
The council received several complaints from locals about their continued stay in this location. The council, as the local authority, could have issued a notice to vacate; however, upon understanding the issues with these people’s health and also their financial situation, the council discussed this issue with me. Together, we worked with several non-government agencies, including SAPOL, to achieve a very great outcome for everybody involved.
As it was, the people involved were also traumatised from being shunted from post to post and from caravan park to caravan park. They were very emotionally impacted. Local SAPOL handled the whole situation with great dignity. They had a very low visual presence at the time when the non-government people had discussions with the people involved. The reason I say that is that the sight of a police officer in uniform or in a police car at that particular point may have aggravated these people’s mental health issues. The local superintendent, with his people, took this on board and attended without a marked car and in plain clothes.
The partnership with these people also involved medical practitioners and SAPOL Yorke and Mid North—especially Senior Sergeant Andrea Wilson—working with Uniting Country SA, Housing SA and other people specialising in mental health. They were able to achieve a great result.
By working collaboratively, we were all able to achieve a great outcome for these people. They were able to get suitable and affordable accommodation where they could actually keep their pet dog. If they had to get rid of their dog, that would have traumatised them even further.
I hear from some councils that certain issues may not be core council business. Whilst this particular issue may not be core council business in the normal terms, it was very heartening to see the personal feelings that were expressed by the CEO, the mayor, and particularly the staff at the Wakefield Regional Council about this issue and their concerns for this particular family.
The staff themselves even took water and food to these people at their location, as their vehicle was not working and there was no running water or any power at the site. I might also add that it was at a time of very hot conditions. Even though the council staff did not know these people personally, they really took to heart the trauma and the hardships that had been felt by these two elderly people.
There are times that councils state that an issue is not theirs but is a state issue or a commonwealth issue and just say to that organisation, ‘You handle it.’ I must admit that Wakefield Regional Council showed empathy, showed emotion and showed very loving care. I might also add that Wakefield Regional Council arranged and paid for these people’s vehicles to be removed from the site and put into a storage facility, something they did not need to do or is under any legislation.
The reason I say that is that the caravan was virtually unliveable and both cars were not going, so the council itself paid for those to be put in a storage facility.
To all staff, including the management, at Wakefield Regional Council, I say a very great thank you for your compassion, together with all the other non-government organisations involved in this great opportunity. It just goes to show that if we can work collaboratively, in unity and in one direction, we can achieve great results.
As I said earlier, quite often I hear from local governments, state governments and other organisations, ‘It’s not my business. It’s not my concern; it’s somebody else’s.’ I have to honestly say that Wakefield Regional Council are very proactive and very community minded. I cannot say enough thanks to them for allowing these two people to be able to get good accommodation—I think they actually got some affordable accommodation for about two years in the Kadina area.
Again, I want to thank everybody for their great efforts. This was a great achievement and a great result for both these elderly people.