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Call for suggestions on use for former Fullarton disability site

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The State Government will begin consulting about the future of the vacant and dilapidated former Julia Farr Centre building in Fullarton, after the former disability institution and hospital was shut down in April this year.

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South Australians with disability, along with their families and carers, will be asked whether the sprawling Fisher Street property should be sold or repurposed into a new facility through a government YourSAy questionnaire to go online this afternoon.

The building and adjacent car park, currently known as Highgate Park, was built in the 1970s and is owned by the Home for the Incurables Trust, of which Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink is sole trustee.

The charitable trust operates entirely for the benefit of people with disability, with all proceeds from the potential sale of the block to go towards a cause or project stipulated by South Australians with disability.

Philanthropist Julia Farr founded the original Home for the Incurables on the Fullarton block in 1879, with more than 800 people with disability living at the institution at its peak in the 1970s.

The institution was renamed the Julia Farr Centre in 1981, before changes to best practice disability support prompted a shift away from institutionalised care towards more independent and small group living arrangements.

Disability SA sold off parcels of land from the original property in 2003, leaving only the Highgate Park site, which stopped accepting new residents in 2014.

In August last year, the 11 residents still at the centre were progressively transitioned into new accommodation.

The last resident vacated the building in April this year.

Lensink said the Government wanted to hear from the community about how the trust could change to support people with disability in new and better ways.

“Any decision on the future of the Highgate Park site will be made in consultation with the community and meet the trust’s objectives to benefit people with disability,” she said.

“This is an important opportunity to elevate the voices of people with disability in government decision-making and ensure their experiences and their aspirations are at the heart of the future of this trust.”

The consultation, to close on July 31, will inform development options for the future of the Home for the Incurables trust.

A separate engagement process will be launched to determine any future development at the Highgate Park site.

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