Residents take centre stage

Caitlin Hill (12), Tyler Walker (10), Gaye Bromfield and Zayar Walker (both 11) protest against the disability justice centres.
Caitlin Hill (12), Tyler Walker (10), Gaye Bromfield and Zayar Walker (both 11) protest against the disability justice centres.

Last week, Minister for Disability Services Helen Morton announced the facilities would house people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities charged with but not convicted of an offence.

Under the plans, Disability Services Commission (DSC) accommodation will be redeveloped in Lord Street, Lockridge and a site in Altone Road, Kiara ” currently used for a Lockridge High School agricultural program ” will also be used.

Infuriated local residents attended a community information session led by DSC director general Ron Chalmers and Ms Morton on Saturday.

Many said they had been inadequately consulted given they only received letters detailing the Government’s plans the day before it went public.

Ms Morton said the decision had been made and that the Government believed these centres were needed in Perth.

‘These need to be community-based and not on a prison site,’ she said.

‘These are small-scale and secure and it will be across two sites for flexibility and to make sure it’s not institutional.

She said they were the ‘best sites’ and the planning process had already commenced.

‘The one at Caversham (Lord Street) is going to be operational by 2014 and the second one at Altone Street is going to be operational by 2015,’ she said.

Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly said people were unhappy they had not been consulted before a decision was made.

‘If you told people before you made the decision, that would give this community an opportunity to put forward a different view and so you didn’t want that, you’ve done it in a way that it makes it appear as though it’s a done deal,’ he said.

‘The other thing people find offensive is anyone who opposes this decision is being painted as opposed to the disabled ” that is not true. This is a compassionate community ” we care about people with disabilities but we believe the placing of these facilities should be done after a proper process, proper consultation and proper criteria. ‘

One concerned mother to address the meeting asked Ms Morton if she could assure the safety of children in the area.

‘As the Minister of Child Protection Services ” please explain to me how you’re protecting our children putting these people in these areas,’ she said.

‘Can you guarantee or promise me that people who are going to be in these facilities have not harmed another human?’

Ms Morton said people would be comprehensively assessed by the Mentally Impaired Accused Board to live in a community-based facility.