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Oakden whistleblower vows to air allegations against SA Health

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Oakden whistle-blower Stewart Johnston says he has proof of maladministration and corruption within SA Health and will use parliamentary privilege to name those he believes are responsible.

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Johnston’s mother Helen was victimised by staff at the disgraced and now-shuttered Oakden Older Person’s Mental Health Service in 2008.

After sensationally quitting an SA Health committee formed to oversee a trial of CCTV cameras in nursing homes in September, Johnston met with Premier Steven Marshall this morning to outline the ongoing concerns of the families of those who were abused at Oakden.

Speaking to reporters outside the State Administration Centre in Victoria Square after the meeting this morning, Johnston said he had hundreds of documents and a series of allegations against individuals that he intends to air publicly.

He told reporters there were people within SA Health “who have never been held accountable”.

“That’s still a crisis, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

He said he would use a state parliamentary inquiry into health services to name individuals that he believes are responsible for wrongdoing.

“I will certainly be bringing everything that I have and giving the names of the people that I’m alleging (wrongdoing) against,” he said, adding that he had hundreds of documents that constituted proof of his allegations.

“This isn’t just hearsay,” he said.

Committee chair, SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros, confirmed to InDaily that she would invite Johnston, as well as Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander, to address the committee.

Her office told InDaily committee members would be voting on the invitation of witnesses on 18 November, with some of the witnesses expected to appear before the end of the month.

Johnston said he had expressed concerns to the Premier today about the tender for a trial of CCTV cameras in publicly-funded nursing homes.

He said an SA Health surveillance security policy meant that any company who wins the tender to would have to provide any evidence of wrongdoing to SA Health as the first step.

He said this prevented such evidence from first being taken to SA Police.

“(It’s) the fox in the hen house,” he said.

“SA Health is responsible for Oakden and they still haven’t been brought to justice.

“That is fundamentally undermining the whole thing we’re trying to change here.”

He said he had also expressed disappointment with the redaction of parts of a major audit into state-run aged care facilities at the meeting.

A State Government spokesperson told InDaily: “The Premier was happy to again meet with families of the Oakden tragedy to discuss a range of matters.”

“There’s plenty of work to be done to improve our aged care system and the Marshall Government is focused on working with the community to deliver a better system,” said the spokesperson.

Johnston quit his role on the SA Health steering committee overseeing the CCTV trial in September, saying that it was “an action I must take to ensure my independence and ability to act and speak freely without inhibition, perceived or otherwise”.

“I’ve spent nearly six months going to committee meetings [and] nothing has been achieved in the entire six months,” he told reporters at the time.

“There are good people, but they’re swimming against a very, very strong tide.

“We had an opportunity here for the most shameful chapter to be the end of the book… unfortunately, SA Health and the bureaucracy that’s been allowed to flourish has written chapter after chapter.”

Last month, Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander said SA Health was “riddled with maladministration” and that he was “very confident” it also harboured corruption.

He said at the time that he was aware of Johnston’s views and that “some of his concerns are valid, I think”.

Lander wants to conduct a $2 million evaluation of SA Health – a suggestion that was apparently supported by chief executive Chris McGowan, who was appointed after the Oakden debacle – but Treasurer Rob Lucas has argued the ICAC has sufficient funds to investigate corruption claims.

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