Hansard, House of assembly, 31 May 2017
Mr GRIFFITHS (Goyder) (15:28 :32 ): I rise today to talk about one of my favourite subjects, Yorketown Hospital. I acknowledge that, while I was unable to be here yesterday, being unwell, a petition regarding Yorketown Hospital, signed by 2,049 people, was presented in my name. To all those people, and indeed all those who sought others out to sign the petition and to show their support for Yorketown Hospital and its surgical procedures, I say thank you. For the benefit of Hansard, I will repeat the words of the petition:
The Petition of the undersigned residents of South Australia respectfully expresses their strong opposition to the State Government's plan to withdraw surgical services from Yorketown Hospital. Your petitioners therefore request that your Honourable House will call on the State Government to:  maintain the current range of surgical services at Yorketown Hospital;  upgrade and properly maintain the infrastructure of Yorketown Hospital to support the continuation of current services; and  direct Country Health SA to engage the community of Southern Yorke Peninsula in the planning of its health services before decisions are made, not after.
Those three issues raised in the petition were quite specific. I am sure people who read it and signed it did so because they wanted to be informed. Part of that cohort of people were amongst the 607 people who attended at the Yorketown Town Hall on 20 April at a public meeting that I convened.
They did so because they are concerned about the facility, but the issues raised that evening, and the opportunity to report on the information attached to it, and the desire to seek out additional information about bequests that might have been provided to the hospital, have still been met with no responses from minister Snelling's office. If I am wrong about this, I will apologise and later retract it, but I am very sure that I have contacted the minister's office on four occasions since February seeking a variety of information about the proposal to remove services from the surgery from 1 April and an explanation of issues associated with that.
I have lodged a freedom of information request about the bequests that had been made, about the funding and balance of those funds that were held at the time of boards of management being in place and later replaced by health advisory committees, and about ensuring those funds that had been previously available continue to be available, and that other than that spent up to this date remain available. I have had no response to that FOI either, and the 28 days associated with the review of that expired 13 days ago. A lot of the information that should be out in the community is not actually out there.
The Yorke Peninsula Country Times—a fine local newspaper—in reporting this week about the petition being tabled in the house yesterday also made mention of the fact that Country Health SA, as part of its revised effort to consult with the community, having temporarily forgotten the 1 April date for the removal of the surgery and procedures, held four two-hour sessions, which they hoped would be one-on-one sessions with individuals. That does not give a lot of scope, particularly as most of those sessions were held during daylight hours, and therefore in working hours, making it hard for people to attend.
As I understand it, the highest number of people who attended any of those four two-hour sessions was about 10. I held a public meeting and got 600 there, which shows that an opportunity exists and, when people want to be informed about a matter, they will attend even when we had had three inches of rain in Yorketown that day. But since that time, there has been no continued effort.
The Yorke Peninsula Country Times this week goes on to confirm that public consultation closes on 9 June, but in what way? They have encouraged people to send emails, but there has been no opportunity to sit down with departmental officers, who hopefully would be decision-makers on this, and actually understand the concerns that exist in the community about any supposed threat of reduction of surgical procedures.
It is this lack of information and the continued frustration of the community that resulted in such a really strong turnout for the petition that was signed by 2,000 people. The southern Yorke Peninsula area is part of a population of probably about 4,000 and a bit, full-time. Getting nearly 50 per cent of the full-time residents to sign a petition shows a really strong commitment to the preservation of the service and an absolute commitment to the fact that they want government to recognise the concerns that they hold.
They are prepared to make an effort to sign and circulate a petition amongst the community and present it to this place in the hope that it is listened to. I urge the government to continue to engage the community in a far better way than they have done in the past, to highlight this petition as an example of that, and ensure that the outcome is a positive one for the Yorketown Hospital.