Well-designed aged care accommodation can make it possible for elderly Anangu to continue to live on their traditional lands. For many years, the people of Kalka waited for a cluster of aged care units to be established in their community. Construction of six units was completed in late 2007. More than twelve months later, all but one of the units remained empty. As of 1 July 2010, only two of the units were being used.
The Paper Trail
On 2 April 2003, South Australia’s Aboriginal Housing Authority (AHA) allocated funding for the construction of aged care accommodation at Kalka.[i] The allocation built on earlier efforts by AHA to design and deliver aged care accommodation in other APY communities.[ii]
A preliminary site plan for the Kalka development envisaged six separate buildings encircling a common shelter area. The six buildings would include rooms for 10 residents, four shared bathrooms, a small laundry, a large kitchen and a communal living space.[iii]
In 2004, AHA was asked to explain how it went about designing this type of accommodation. In reply, it stated:
AHA prepares a design brief after consultation with the community involved. The final design brief is then forwarded and signed off by the community as well as AP Services, AP Development Committee and AP Executive. Also Nganampa Health were consulted in the design phase.[iv]
Asked to explain how the accommodation was or would be linked to the delivery of human services, AHA stated (emphasis added):
Aged accommodation is not formally linked to human service organization[s] by the AHA. The buildings are constructed on instruction from the community and owned by providers of human services and the community. The formal links must happen between providers of human services and the community. Communities general[ly] seek appropriate funding … to provide human services to aged persons. However, as part of the community consultation processes, AHA ensures that the community has appropriate structures in place.[v]
In its official business plan for 2004/05, AHA indicated that “Stage 1” of the Kalka project would be implemented in 2004/05 and include the construction of “up to six units and a communal kitchen.”[vi]
In September 2004, reporting to Parliament on the provision of “affordable housing for community groups with special needs,” the State Government appeared to imply that some of the units at Kalka had already been completed.[vii]
AHA also remained upbeat, commenting in its Annual Report for 2004/05 that the special project at Kalka had “commenced.”[viii]
In reality, despite such optimistic reports and forecasts, little progress was made in 2004/05. On 11 May 2005, Kalka community complained:
The Aged Care facility was approved in 2003 but still nothing has occurred – plans have not even been finalised. It is, obviously, a priority for Kalka and was back then. It is not acceptable that things take so long.[ix]
On 6 July 2005, AHA indicated that the Kalka project had initially been delayed “due to the requirement to upgrade power and water infrastructure” and that after “this work had been undertaken the demands of other construction work … [had taken] precedence.” AHA reported, however, that:
- documentation for the project had been completed in June 2005,
- additional community consultation would take place in July 2005,
- a tender process would be undertaken in August 2005, and
- work on the six units was likely to commence in October or November 2005 and to be completed by June 2006.[x]
In April 2006, problems with the project were brought to the attention of the APY Executive Board. The Executive heard that:
- the project had “been tendered and the contract let without the necessary approvals,”
- there had been a lack of appropriate consultation,
- the project sought to duplicate a model of aged care accommodation that had failed in other APY communities,
- the site layout and unit plans did “not suit the site or services,”
- access for people in wheelchairs had not been provided,
- the approval for the project has not been obtained from the APY Development Committee.[xi]
According to APY, AP Services had previously raised objections about the facility’s design and specifications – including concerns about disability access.[xii] The Paper Tracker understands that some modifications were subsequently made so that at least one of the aged care units as well as the common areas have disability access.[xiii]
While the local community at Kalka had hoped that Nganampa Health Council (NHC) would be able to use the facility’s kitchen as the base for a program that prepares and delivers healthy meals to frail and aged Anangu in their homes, “the kitchen as installed [did] not comply with the Department of Health regulations for commercial kitchens.”[xiv] Furthermore in contrast to statements made by AHA in 2004,[xv] NHC advised the Paper Tracker that it “is not and has not been involved in any way in the design or implementation of this particular program or the associated physical infrastructure.”[xvi]
The local community had also been under the impression that a carer would be attached to the facility.[xvii]
In August 2006, the State Department for Families and Communities reported that the Kalka project was “under contract” and due for completion [by] November 2006.”[xviii]
In September 2006, AHA’s Annual Report for 2005/06 indicated that “the construction of aged accommodation for Kalka” had commenced “in Adelaide” and that “transportation and handover [would] occur in late December 2006.” The report stated that “there will be three double living units and a kitchen provided in the first stage.”[xix]
The four buildings were delivered to Kalka in November 2006 and completed in 2007.[xx]
The units are not Aged-Care accommodation and should not be referred to as such. They are independent living units that are suitable for all types of people from singles to aged.[xxiii]
The Paper Tracker subsequently asked OAH to clarify its statement about the Kalka units and indicate when it decided that the units would no longer be dedicated aged care accommodation.[xxiv]
On 18 December 2007, the Director of OAH provided the following response:
I understand the units have been designed for use by singles or couples, including those who may require additional support to live independently, either now or in the near future. The term ‘aged care accommodation’ is generally used when describing supported accommodation in a residential or community based setting managed by a registered aged care provider.
In all other instances the term ‘independent accommodation’ is used to describe accommodation constructed outside of a regulated and supervised setting. This is the case with the units in Kalka.[xxv]
The Paper Tracker understands that as of 10 December 2007 the completed units remained unoccupied and that local community members were concerned that if the units were not tenanted and properly managed, they would fall into disrepair or be targeted by vandals[xxvi] as has happened in other APY communities.
On 18 December 2007, OAH advised that a team from the State Department for Families and Communities had “provided fit-out funds to enable new tenants to move into the new units, with basic household goods in place.”[xxvii]
In the same letter, OAH stated that it was “committed to an integrated planning approach for service infrastructure, physical infrastructure and housing developments” and that, in 2008, such an approach would be implemented “in partnership with the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Executive Board.” OAH noted that “any future housing developments responding to the needs of people who are aged or with disabilities will be undertaken within this integrated planning approach.”[xxviii]
As of 12 February 2008, the units remained unfurnished and unoccupied.[xxix]
On 11 July 2008, the Department for Families and Communities provided the Paper Tracker with an update on the units. The update stated that:
- although Kalka community understood from the beginning that the units “were for old people to live in [and] not for supported accommodation,” the community was “reluctant to allocate the units” because it considered that a “building caretaker was required”
- the Department had secured “some one-off funding to provide some caretaking services”
- subsequent to that funding being obtained, the Municipal Services Officer for Kalka had indicated that there [were] no suitable applicants for the accommodation” and that she would now “be discussing the use of the units” with the Office for Aboriginal Housing.[xxx]
Occupancy Data (updated 7 July 2010)
As of early February 2009, more than 15 months after they were completed, all but one of the units remained unoccupied.
On 4 March 2009, representatives of the State Government’s Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division (AARD) appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities. The Division told the Inquiry that “a plan” was currently being developed to “staff and get people back into” the Kalka aged care facility.[xxxi] The Division suggested that Kalka community’s views toward the facility had changed during the course of its development and construction and that, in the longer term, the use of the facility may be better suited to some alternative type of “community support”, other than aged care.[xxxii]
Subsequent information provided by the Division indicated that:
- residents were “now signing up” to live in the units with two people “scheduled to move in during the week of 10 March 2009”,
- “the roles and responsibilities of [government] agencies and the community remains an issue,”
- residents would be required to “pay rent to cover repairs and maintenance, utilities and the employment of a cleaner for the kitchen and common areas and bathrooms,”
- trainees and CDEP workers would be provided to help residents wash their blankets and clean their rooms, and
- Home and Community Care (HACC) meals would be provided to eligible residents. [xxxiii]
More broadly, the Division noted that the Kalka facility was a collection of “Independent Living Units” that had been designed to provide “individual residential facilities for elderly people who are independent and do not require care.”
On 27 May 2009, the State Department of Families and Communities advised the Paper Tracker that:
- all of the units were now “fully occupied”,
- tenancy management would remain the responsibility of Kalka community until such time as the Department “implements a new social housing model for Indigenous communities”,
- associated, outstanding capital works had been “successfully tendered and contracted,”
- the Department expected the contractor to “progress work on a free-standing shade structure … in the centre of the complex,” though this structure would first have “to be engineered and then certified by APY and the state planning authority,”
- “other minor repair and maintenance works” had been actioned and would “be completed as soon as practicable by the relevant trades”, and
- the Department anticipated that all of these works would be completed “by the end of the financial year dependant on approval from the planning authority.”[xxxiv]
Less than two months later, on 15 July 2009, Housing SA noted that when it had “completed its most recent audit of community housing on the APY Lands,” all of the Kalka units were unoccupied but that “the Department for Families and Communities, Housing SA and the community were [now] working on tenancy allocations.”[xxxv]
On 27 May 2010, the Paper Tracker asked Housing SA for an update on the number of people accommodated in the Kalka units.[xxxvi]
In a reply dated 1 July 2010, Housing SA indicated that:
- only two people were currently living in the Kalka units,
- “allocation decisions” for these properties were “currently made by the … [local] Community Council.”[xxxvii]
This article was last updated in June 2010. It has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.
[i] Saunder, N (AHA). 22 February 2005, information provided to Parliament of South Australia’s Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee. Documents provided to the same Committee by AHA on 30 June 2004 indicate that $300,000 was allocated for the Kalka “aged accommodation” in 2003/04 and $560,000 for “Stage 2 Kalka” in 2004/05. On 18 December 2007, the Office for Aboriginal Housing advised that the contract value for the project had been $841,400 (Bennell, O. Letter to Rev P McDonald).
[ii] Prior to April 2003, AHA had already funded the construction of similar units in Iwantja, Kaltjiti and Amata (Aboriginal Housing Authority, 16 August 2004, information provided to the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia).
[iii] AHA, 26 August 2003, “Kalka community. Aged accommodation. Site Plan.”
[iv] Aboriginal Housing Authority, 16 August 2004, information provided to the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia.
[v] Aboriginal Housing Authority, 16 August 2004, information provided to the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia.
[vi] Aboriginal Housing Authority, 2004, “The 2004-05 Business Plan for the South Australian Aboriginal Housing Authority.” The pages of the document are unnumbered. The statement about the Kalka accommodation appears under “Outcome 1”.
[vii] Planning SA. September 2004, Report to Parliament on the Planning Strategy for South Australia 2003-2004, p27. The report stated: “A range of affordable housing options is provided to special needs groups, including: completion of three aged accommodation/independent living units for Dunjiba, Umoona and Kalka Communities within the Indigenous Community Housing Program.” Twelve months later Planning SA was more transparent when it reported that the Kalka project was at the “Tender Process” stage (Planning SA. September 2005, Report to Parliament on the Planning Strategy for South Australia 2004-2005, p29). The project was not mentioned in Planning SA’s report for 2005/06.
[viii] Aboriginal Housing Authority, 2005, The South Australian Aboriginal Housing Authority 2004-05 Annual Report, Government of South Australia, p34.
[ix] The Committee subsequently sought information from the Aboriginal Housing Authority on this project, including an explanation of the reasons for the long delays.
[x] Aboriginal Housing Authority, 6 July 2005, information provided to the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia.
[xi] Minutes of the Executive Meeting of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara held on 5 April 2006, p7. In June 2006, as far as the APY Executive was concerned, the Kalka project remained “an unapproved development” (Minutes of the Executive Meeting of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara held on 7-8 June 2006, p3).
[xii] Bartholomew, M (APY). 19 November 2007. Email to J Nicholls.
[xiii] Bartholomew, M (APY). 19 November 2007. Email to J Nicholls.
[xiv] Bartholomew, M (APY). 19 November 2007. Email to J Nicholls.
[xv] Aboriginal Housing Authority, 16 August 2004, information provided to the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia.
[xvi] Wilson, J (NHC), 19 November 2007. Email to J Nicholls.
[xvii] Bartholomew, M (APY). 19 November 2007. Email to J Nicholls.
[xviii] Office for Women, August 2006, A Two Way Conversation: Aboriginal Women Talking, Government Listening, Government of South Australia, p.
[xix] Aboriginal Housing Authority, 2006, The South Australian Aboriginal Housing Authority 2005-06 Annual Report, Government of South Australia, p27.
[xx] Bartholomew, M (APY). 19 November 2007. Email to J Nicholls. In addition, a frequent visitor to Kalka advised the Paper Tracker in early November that as of the end of October, four buildings had been completed. Three of the buildings are accommodation units comprised of two rooms (two beds in each room) and a shared bathroom. The fourth building has “a kitchen, dining room and what looks like will be an admin office.”
[xxi] On 1 July 2006, the Aboriginal Housing Authority was replaced by the Office for Aboriginal Housing.
[xxii] Office for Aboriginal Housing. 19 November 2007. Email correspondence. In subsequent correspondence OAH advised: “Interim practical completion was officially given to the contractor on 18 September 2007. The keys were received on 2 November 2007, as further items needed rectification by the contractor” (Bennell, O. 18 December 2007. Letter to Rev P McDonald).
[xxiii] Office for Aboriginal Housing. 19 November 2007. Email correspondence. Notwithstanding this response, the Paper Tracker notes that for many years, government agencies had referred to the Kalka project as “aged care accommodation.”
[xxiv] Nicholls, J. 19 November 2007, Email to Office for Aboriginal Housing.
[xxv] Bennell, O. 18 December 2007. Letter to Rev P McDonald
[xxvi] Hewitt, D. 13 December 2007, Email to J Nicholls.
[xxvii] Bennell, O. 18 December 2007. Letter to Rev P McDonald
[xxviii] Bennell, O. 18 December 2007. Letter to Rev P McDonald
[xxix] Hewitt, D. 12 February 2008. Email to J. Nicholls
[xxx] Lawson, J. 11 July 2008. Email to J. Nicholls
[xxxi] Petersen, K. 4 March 2009, Hansard, Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, Senate, Parliament of Australia, p60.
[xxxii] Saunders, N. 4 March 2009, Hansard, Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, Senate, Parliament of Australia, p60
[xxxiii] Government of South Australia. 16 March 2009, “Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, SA Government Response to Questions on Notice,” p5-6.
[xxxiv] Reeves, C (DFC). 27 May 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.
[xxxv] Fagan-Schmidt, P. 15 July 2009.
[xxxvi] McDonald, P. 27 May 2010. Letter to P. Fagan-Schmidt (Housing SA).
[xxxvii] Fagan-Schmidt, P (Housing SA). 1 July 2010. Letter to P. McDonald.