South Australia’s mental health minister, who was at the centre of the Oakden Aged Care scandal has just announced that she will not contest the upcoming state election this March.

Minister Leesa Vlahos was widely criticised for her handling of the abuse and neglect allegation made against the state-run mental health facility.

There were allegations that elderly residents with dementia had been overmedicated, mistreated and inappropriately restrained, according to SA’s chief psychiatrist Dr Aaron Groves damning report into the Oakden facility.

In a statement released yesterday, Vlahos referenced the South Australia’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption report with the findings from his secretive maladministration probe which is to be released at the end of this month.

“While I expect no adverse finding, I am concerned that the timing of the release of this report could mean that my candidature could become a distraction at this most important time,” she said.

“As I was the minister at the time and now a candidate at the head of our Legislative Council ticket, I see I will become the target for a lazy Opposition looking to sneak into power under the Xenophon swing.

“I believe Labor — and South Australia — cannot afford the distraction. The future of this state is too important.

“I have decided, therefore, to step aside from public office at this time.”

In another statement Premier Jay Weatherill confirmed that Vlahos’s would be withdrawing from the election.

“Today I was advised Leesa Vlahos has decided she will not contest the next state election,” he said.

“This must have been a difficult decision for Ms Vlahos to have made, but I believe it is the right one.”

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The Maladministration Probe

The timing of Vlahos’s withdrawal correlates closely to a report that is scheduled to be released on February 28.

South Australia’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption’s report from their maladministration probe will name  at least three figures linked to the State Government-run facility.

Commissioner Bruce Lander has said, “I have decided that it is in the public interest that my final report is published and I intend to do so”.

There were delays in releasing the report, according to Lander, because there was questions as to whether he was allowed to name the individuals in his report without their consent.

“This matter has necessarily resulted in a delay in bringing the investigation to an end,” Lander said.

“While this has been a distraction those persons were entitled to make submissions and it was appropriate that the matter be determined.”

Landers announced that he was going to conduct a maladministration probe into the health department’s management of the Oakden last May – making his investigation span almost nine months.

“Having determined the matter I will now proceed to finalise my investigation. The collection of evidence is complete,” Mr Lander said.

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