Oakden Inquiry

On 13 June 2017, the Senate agreed to establish an inquiry into the Oakden Aged Care Facility as instigated by NXT.  Public Hearings into this matter were held in Adelaide on 21 November 2017 and Canberra on 5 February 2018.  An interim report was tabled by the Committee on 13 February 2018 and the final report is due on 28 November 2018.

“An age-old problem – shamefully handled”

Recommendations of the interim report are:

  1. An extension of the inquiry into the effectiveness of the Aged Care Quality Assessment and accreditation framework for protecting residents from abuse and poor practices and ensuring proper clinical and medical care standards are maintained and practised.
  2. In relation to the current aged care oversight reforms being undertaken, all dementia-related and other mental health services being delivered in an aged care context must be correctly classified as health services not aged care services, and must therefore be regulated by the appropriate health quality standards and accreditation processes.

NXT have also specifically identified the following issues:

The SA Government were directly responsible for the causes of the failed operations at Oakden including:

  • Inappropriate model of care: Inexcusably, Oakden did not have an approved model of care. The effect of this was that there was no model in use appropriate for the types of services provided at Oakden and there was no articulation of who would be provided services at Oakden, or how those services would be achieved regarding staffing, resources and infrastructure. The SA Chief Psychiatrist summed up the effect of that very succinctly: 'Oakden is not providing the right care, at the right time from the right team'.
  • Poor infrastructure: Oakden's facilities were entirely unsuitable for its purpose—a significant factor in the overall poor standard of care at the facility. The SA Government simply didn't fund the facility properly.
  • Staffing concerns: There were not enough staff at the facility and those staff that were employed there were not trained properly on how to provide the care they were required to.
  • Governance failures: The clinical governance framework was totally inadequate and led to poor clinical care across a broad range of areas.
  • Toxic culture: The morale at Oakden was described as being poor. There was bickering and disrespect amongst staff in an atmosphere that could only be described as secretive and inward-looking.

It is not as though these problems arose in the immediate period prior to the facility's closure; these problems were the result of long-standing neglect by the SA Government.

Further information about the progress of this inquiry can be found here.

This clipping from Hansard shows the motion as moved by Nick in the Senate on 13 June.

Nick Motion

Terms of reference for the Inquiry are below, for more information follow the link to the APH website.


On 13 June 2017, the Senate referred the above matter to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report:

  1. the effectiveness of the Aged Care Quality Assessment and accreditation framework for protecting residents from abuse and poor practices, and ensuring proper clinical and medical care standards are maintained and practised;
  2. the adequacy and effectiveness of complaints handling processes at a state and federal level, including consumer awareness and appropriate use of the available complaints mechanisms;
  3. concerns regarding standards of care reported to aged care providers and government agencies by staff and contract workers, medical officers, volunteers, family members and other healthcare or aged care providers receiving transferred patients, and the adequacy of responses and feedback arrangements;
  4. the adequacy of medication handling practices and drug administration methods specific to aged care delivered at Oakden;
  5. the adequacy of injury prevention, monitoring and reporting mechanisms and the need for mandatory reporting and data collection for serious injury and mortality incidents;
  6. the division of responsibility and accountability between residents (and their families), agency and permanent staff, aged care providers, and the state and the federal governments for reporting on and acting on adverse incidents; and
  7. any related matters.

The contact details of the committee secretary are as follows: 

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600 

Phone: +61 2 6277 3515
Fax: +61 2 6277 5829