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These two related companies operated by someone with a criminal history owned two homes which were a continuing problem. It gives a fascinating insight into the type of people who enter the sector and the failures of the regulatory system.

 Australian section   

Saitta Pty Ltd and Neviskia Pty Ltd
Kenilworth and Belvedere Park Nursing Homes
 

  

CONTENTS


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Introduction

These two companies and their owner and manager provide an insight into the way in which totally unsuitable people enter the industry and the authorities not only fail to utilise the system to stop them but the system itself fails abysmally.

Neviskia was the owner of the Kenilworth Nursing Home and Saitta of the Belvedere Park Nursing Home, both in Melbourne. Graeme Menere was the manager of both. He owned half of Saitta and two thirds of Neviskia and the department’s attention was drawn to his criminal history in 1998. The Kenilworth home was shut down when Neviskia entered bankruptcy in 2001. The Belvedere Park home had recurrent problems between 1998 and 2003. It is still operated by Saitta.

May 2000 Conflict with government

THE proprietor of two Melbourne nursing homes is being investigated by the Federal Government over claims of a criminal conviction.

Graeme Menere's homes, Belvedere Park in Sydenham and Kenilworth Private in Ivanhoe, are two of five homes in Australia under sanctions imposed by the Federal Government.

Mr Menere has actions before the courts to lift those sanctions and is suing the government for what he claims are unfair reports on the standard of care at the homes.
Owner under investigation. Herald-Sun May 27, 2000


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The Kenilworth Nursing Home

The Kenilworth home’s recurrent problems, appalling standards of care, its failure to pay its nurses, the belligerent approach of its manager, and the failure of the minister to act engendered international press coverage. It was owned by Neviskia.

1999

The accreditation agency's assessor found there were problems at the home but a politician leapt to their defence.

Jul 1999 Political support

Liberal MP Bill Forwood has defended the Kenilworth nursing home, which was slated by the assessor.
NURSING HOMES FUNDS FEAR. Herald-Sun July 17, 1999


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2000

During 2000 the situation steadily deteriorated with multiple inspections at frequent intervals. Instead of complying the company’s manager attacked the findings and largely ignored the remedial steps required. The home was visited repeatedly.

Jul 2000 Problems identified

Another home in Victoria, Kenilworth nursing home, had failed to record all residents' terminal care wishes and to maintain proper health standards.
Nursing homes on aged care blacklist. The Australian July 28, 2000

Jul 2000 Sanctioned

RESIDENTS of a Victorian nursing home were locked in their dormitories at night with even the fire doors bolted shut "to prevent them from absconding", a government report has found.

Kenilworth Nursing Home, in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe, is one of nine aged-care facilities blacklisted by the federal Government for providing substandard care.

An audit report, conducted by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency, found that 18 of the 30 patients were physically restrained in their beds using bed rails, despite staff feeling these were dangerous.

And staff were unable to open padlocked doors to a suggested alternative fire escape.
-------------------
Under the sanctions, Kenilworth has lost commonwealth funding for nine months and is banned from allocating further places for 12 months.
Aged `prisoners' of blacklisted homes. The Australian July 29, 2000

Sep 2000 More sanctions for non-compliance

A Melbourne nursing home classified as posing a ``severe'' risk to residents has had stiff new penalties imposed by the Federal Government after it failed to take satisfactory remedial action.

The Kenilworth Private Nursing Home, in Ivanhoe, has had five bed licences revoked and been invited to participate in urgent discussions with the Department of Health and Aged Care.

In a ``review audit'' conducted a week ago, the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation agency expressed strong concern about residents' welfare including an individual who was given chemical restraint without an authorisation form.
------------------
The report cited other problems including poor documentation and lack of safe access for some residents who had rails attached at hip-height to their beds ``Residents are at serious risk of injury because they may be seriously injured climbing out over the bed rails while attempting to get out of bed,'' the monitoring agency said.

The 30-bed nursing home came to the attention of the Commonwealth authorities in March when sanctions were first imposed. Action taken then included the suspension of funding for new residents for nine months.

Further penalties have been imposed during the year but a government spokesman said closure was not an immediate option.
Nursing Home Faces Penalties The Age September 22, 2000

Oct 2000 Provider appeal overruled

Sanctions imposed September 2000; decision to impose sanctions confirmed in October 2000 despite provider request for reconsideration.

Residents and families made to pay for pharmacy items such as painkillers and emollient creams that should be provided free. About 70 per cent of residents chemically or physically restrained.
NURSING HOMES UNDER THE MICROSCOPE. Herald-Sun October 23, 2000

Nov 2000 Threatened with closure

The Australian Government said the Kenilworth Nursing Home would be forced to close if it did not improve its record. - - - - - If improvements do not occur, funding for the Ivanhoe nursing home will cease on 1 January 2001. The home has not applied for accreditation, despite assurances it would do so.
Home faces closure over breaches. Herald Sun November 8, 2000

Nov 2000 Unchanged

CONDITIONS at a Melbourne nursing home are so bad staff would not be able to safely evacuate residents if a fire broke out, a new government report reveals.
---------------------
The home has been subjected to Federal Government sanctions on five occasions in 18 months.
Report slams nursing home. Herald-Sun November 10, 2000


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To press the matter and expose the regulator’s failure the findings of the more recent audits were publicised by the nursing union and the international UK paper The Guardian took up the matter. Accreditation was finally withdrawn.

Nov 2000 Nursing unions take up the issue

The home has been audited and found to be unsatisfactory by the Australian Nursing Federation, the Commonwealth Aged Care Standards Agency and the Victorian WorkCover Authority.

The following are some of the matters found to be of concern:

13 of the 20 residents did not have safe access in and out of their beds because they were in beds that were fixed at hip height.

A number of beds had "bed rails" attached which was of severe risk to residents. The Agency Team reviewed 24 incident reports from May to August. Nine of these incidents involved falls. Residents commented that it was difficult for them to get out of the fixed height beds.
---------------
The two hot water services were in an unlocked cupboard opposite the Nurses’ Office and unauthorised persons and/or wandering residents could access the hot water service.
-------------------
Five of the 20 residents (that were in place at the time of the audit) had severe visual impairment. These residents would require one to one help to evacuate in the event of a fire. Due to sanctions imposed on the facility by the Aged Care Act, the facility now has 12 or less residents. Consequently the employer has reduced night duty staffing levels to one employee. In the event of a fire or any other incident requiring evacuation, it would be impossible for that one employee to evacuate visually impaired and physically disabled residents safely.

Two infectious waste bins were overflowing.
------------------------
The cook (untrained) was unaware of the status of the Services Food Safety Program.

Areas of the service were not clean with mould observed on tiles behind a hand basin and faecal matter on the wall behind the slop hopper in the pan room.
---------------------
The food situation is critical. Both the quality and quantity are inadequate. Kitchen staff does not have authority to order the food. Kitchen staff regularly goes to the bakery and buys day old donuts for the residents’ morning tea. There is no supply of fresh fruit or vegetables.
-----------------------
Towels and washers

There are insufficient quantities being ordered.
----------------------------
There is no Director of Nursing and this is in breach of the Aged Care Act 1997.
Matters of concern at Kenilworth Nursing Home ANF document November 10, 2000

Nov 2000 The Guardian reports

Poor & dangerous conditions
--------------
The building is in disrepair, with holes in the walls and peeled paint and cracked lino.

Heating vents are caked with grime.

Staff have not attended inservice or training in occupational health and safety and infection control.

There has been no occupational health and safety meeting since 1999, nor has it been an agenda item at staff meetings in 2000.
---------------------
A number of the residents have severe visual impairments and would require one-to-one help to evacuate in the vent of a fire.
--------------------
On both the days the Commonwealth Aged Care Standards Agency carried out its audit at Kenilworth all liquid soap dispensers were empty and two infectious waste bins were overflowing.
Nursing home disgrace:: Demand for rules upgrade The Guardian November 15, 2000


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2001

Matters had come to a head at the end of 2000 and the department had finally withdrawn accreditation and so funding. Graeme Menere the company’s manager had bitterly criticised the agency, accused it of victimising the homes, and blatantly ignored their requirements. He now appealed the sanctions imposed and effectively won a legal reprieve of sorts. The department did not restore accreditation.

Jan 2001 Funding denied

Kenilworth Private Nursing Home in Ivanhoe was yesterday the only one of Australia's 2959 nursing homes to be denied accreditation or an exceptional circumstances extension.

The Department of Health and Aged Care said the home posed an ``immediate risk'' to its three patients, but its owner, Graeme Menere, said it was a payback for the battles he is fighting with the department in the Federal and Supreme Courts and the Administrative Affairs Tribunal.
Kenilworth Is Home For Three The Age January 2, 2001

Jan 2001 The only one

- - - - - all other homes that failed to achieve accreditation have received a special circumstances exemption for up to 6 months.
Kenilworth nurses to walk out ANF Media Release January 3, 2001

Jan 2001 Appeal successful

Mr Menere said the Administrative Appeals Tribunal rejected these findings on December 22 and that the home was to be reassessed for accreditation in mid-January.

He said the tribunal ordered the payment of subsidies until then. Mr Menere was ``pretty confident'' the home would gain accreditation.
Nursing Homes Fail To Make The Grade The Age January 2, 2001

Jan 2001 Multiple sanctions - set aside

The home has twice been sanctioned in the past 10 months for putting patients at risk.

Numerous visits to the home by agency staff found a litany of unacceptable practices.
--------------------
Kenilworth has only three residents. Aged Care Department nurses will monitor the home, which has had five sanctions applied since last March when the agency found patients were at risk. Some sanctions have since been set aside by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Nursing homes face purge. Australian January 2, 2001

Jan 2001 Sanctions and accreditation separate issues

The AAT decision, which has been seen by The Australian, says it "is not satisfied that because of non-compliance there was an `immediate and severe risk to the safety, health or well-being of care recipients' at Kenilworth".

However, the Aged Care Department insists Kenilworth's failure to secure accreditation is a totally different issue to the sanctions issued last year, and refused to comment further yesterday.
Nursing home fights for its name and funding. Australian January 3, 2001


Menere continued to fight but by now he was not paying his bills and the nurses had walked out when their salaries were not paid. The National Australian Bank finally moved to put the company owning Kenilworth Nursing Home into receivership.

Jan 2001 All residents move out

THE beleaguered Kenilworth private nursing home is to close temporarily after its last two residents were moved out of the home rated by the federal Government as the nation's worst.

Owner Graeme Menere said the home would close for renovations to bring it up to Department of Health and Aged Care accreditation and certification standards.
Residents move out as nursing home shuts. Australian January 6, 2001

Jan 2001 Enters receivership

The company which runs Melbourne's embattled Kenilworth nursing home has gone into receivership.

The announcement came as Kenilworth owner Graeme Menere appeared at an Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) hearing into unpaid wages and entitlements due to his staff.
----------------
Outside the court Mr Menere told AAP that the National Australia Bank called him last Friday and demanded he make full payment of his debt to the bank.
Melbourne nursing home put in receivership. Australian Associated Press January 10, 2001


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The Belvedere Park Nursing Home

The Belvedere Park Nursing Home was operated by Saitta Pty Ltd and this company still owns and operates it. Belvedere Park has been a dysfunctional entity for a far longer period than Kenilworth Nursing Home. In spite of multiple problems and repeated sanctions over the years it is still owned and run by the same company. The role which Graeme Menere now plays in its operations is not known.

1998

Aug 1998 Serious problems

The emergency meeting was called after the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services delivered its formal assessment of the home. It made frightening reading.

The monitoring team which inspected the home in November found it met only four out of 29 expected outcomes. The team reported that urgent action was required by the home's proprietor, Mr Graeme Menere, on 22 care items.

These included pain management, clinical care, nutrition and hydration, continence, skin care, sleep, emotional support, privacy and dignity, and infection control.

As a result, Mr Menere - who strongly disputes the report and says the home was recently given a clean bill of health by an inspection team - was issued with a notice of non-compliance by the department, the final step before financial sanctions were imposed. It took the department another six months before it took this step.
-----------------------------
Among a litany of complaints, the federal department's monitors observed in its report that ``not all wounds are identified by staff because the team observed that wounds sustained after incidences such as falls were not always noted on wound charts ...''

The monitors also noted: ``Staff stated and relatives confirmed that the home does not supply continence aids for residents ... the team observed a strong smell of urine in the facility during our visit.''

Nursing homes are required by law to keep up-to-date care plans for each resident, a document that is supposed to reflect the individual's needs and desires - medical, social and emotional. The monitors found that at Belvedere Park, these plans were hopelessly inadequate.
-------------------------
The department insisted that a qualified director of nursing be employed immediately or they would impose sanctions. Mr Menere appointed the respected and experienced Mrs Bev Bragg, a move that kept the bureaucrats at bay and gave relatives hope things might improve.

But June was a bad month. First was the news that the home was infested with the dangerous white tail spider.

Mrs Bragg acted immediately, trying to arrange the transfer of Belvedere Park's 30 elderly and highly dependent residents to the North West Hospital so the home could be fumigated.

During the move, a worker from the gas company arrived to cut off supply because the account was overdue.

Two weeks later the home's telephone was disconnected due to an unpaid bill. Earlier in the year, the food supplier, the rubbish collector and the paper towel supplier had refused to deliver to Belvedere Park Nursing Home because of non-payment of accounts.

The City of Brimbank issued a notice against the home on 25 February after complaints about the stench from mounds of uncollected kitchen waste. The owners of the property, McMullin Properties Pty Ltd, wrote to Mr Menere telling him to fix the problem.

Two of Melbourne's largest nursing agencies were also owed money - one still is - and were refusing to send staff to Belvedere Park.
-------------------------
"The approved provider of this aged care facility has not complied with its responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997. The Approved Provider was issued with a Notice of Non-Compliance by the Secretary under Section 67-2 on 7 January 1998."
How One Inspection Revealed A Need For Urgent Action The Age August 24, 1998

Aug 1998 One of the facilities of concern

The Federal Government has a secret list of 41 Victorian nursing homes and hostels which it regards as facilities of concern. Today The Age publishes the most recent list which contains the names of 31 homes. The other 10 are unknown.
-------------------
VICTORIA'S AGED CARE FACILITIES OF CONCERN

As at June 1998
------------------
Belvedere Park
Secret List Of State's Hostels The Age August 26, 1998


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1999

Problems continued during 1999 and Belvedere Park was repeatedly named as a problem home.

Oct 1999 Multiple oversight visits

Officers visited the Belvedere Park Nursing Home in Sydenham three times after it was found health and personal care, resident lifestyles, the physical environment and safe systems were all unacceptable
NURSING HOME BOSS HITS BACK. Herald-Sun October 1, 1999

Dec 1999 Publicly named

SEVEN Victorian nursing homes have been named by the Federal Government for failing to comply with strict aged care guidelines.
------------------------
The offending homes were the Evelyn Wilson Nursing Home, Bellview Nursing Home, Princeton Nursing Home, Western Nursing Home, Grevillia Court Nursing Home, Belvedere Park and Tullamore Nursing Home.
Nursing home failures outed. Herald-Sun December 8,1999


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2000

Things got steadily worse during 2000. When sanctions were imposed Menere attacked the agency and after appealing the decision repeatedly the sanctions were overturned.

Mar 2000 Unacceptable

The agency has given Belvedere Park Nursing Home in Sydenham in Victoria its fourth consecutive poor report, rating the home as unacceptable.
Bishop Says System OK. Herald-Sun March 2, 2000

Mar 2000 Multiple problems

Health and personal care rating: unacceptable.

Continuous improvement required. Washable continence aids in poor condition and all the same size.

Resident lifestyle rating: unacceptable.

No planned activities program. Residents complain of being bored. Residents' dignity compromised.

Physical environment rating: unacceptable.

Inadequate surveillance programs to monitor and prevent infection.

Linen of poor quality. Low beds and mattresses to reduce risks unavailable because of resource constraints.
POOR STANDARDS REVEALED. Herald-Sun March 8, 2000

Mar 2000 No funding for new residents

Aged Care Minister Bronwyn Bishop cancelled funding access for new residents at Belvedere and Cambrai but has maintained subsidies for residents currently there, Ms Sellers said.
Residents leave as crisis grows. Herald-Sun March 8, 2000

Mar 2000 Summary of failures

Audit reports show that the 30-resident home has consistently been rated substandard over the past 18 months.

Reports released by the Aged Care Accreditation and Standards Agency on Friday show that auditors inspected it in July to September 1998, January 1999, March 1999 and again in October 1999.

The first audit rated the home unacceptable for its health and personal care, resident lifestyle and physical environment and safety.

The next audit found conditions even worse, and the January 1999 audit found residents were at ``serious risk'' in relation to 17 separate aspects of their care.

The final report, four months ago, found several aspects of the home's care were still unacceptable, but said there were now no risks to residents.
Stalker Allowed To Go On Running Nursing Home Sun Herald March 12, 2000

Jul 2000 Not supplying equipment

One facility, Belvedere Park nursing home in Victoria, failed to supply necessary equipment to its residents, such as colostomy bags and continence aids.
Nursing homes on aged care blacklist. The Australian July 28, 2000

Oct 2000 Sanctions imposed August

30 beds; audited October 1999; Sanction imposed August 2000; Application for stay of sanctions refused in September 2000

Residents and families supply own continence aids, tissues, colostomy bags.
NURSING HOMES UNDER THE MICROSCOPE. Herald-Sun October 23, 2000

Dec 2000 Sanctions set aside on appeal

Sanctions 2 Applied

No Commonwealth funding for new residents for a period of 12 months.
-------------------------
Current Status of Service

The Approved Provider sought a reconsideration of the decision to impose sanctions.

The original decision was confirmed on 4 September 2000.

The Approved Provider applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a stay of the sanctions.

The hearing of the stay application was held on 29 September 2000. The application was refused.

The Approved Provider applied to the AAT for review of the decision to impose the sanctions.

Sanctions set aside by AAT on 22 December 2000.
Departmental Web Site accessed June 26, 2006


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2001 to 2003

In early 2001 Graeme Menere was removed as a director of Saitta but continued to be an owner. There continued to be problems at the home and at one stage it almost lost accreditation. When it corrected the problems this home which had been a chronic and recurrent problem was accredited for 3 years - out of sight and out of mind.

Jan 2001 History of audit reports

A Senate committee was told last year sanctions were placed on Belvedere Park on May 2 and in 1999. The home had four separate audit reports identifying serious risks between December 1998 and March 2000.
Nursing homes face purge. Australian January 2, 2001

Aug 2001 In a critical condition

The most current published agency assessment team reports list the following Victorian homes as being in a CRITICAL condition, - - - - - .
-------------
Belvedere Park Aged Care Service. Profita Rd, Sydenham.
Ratings under review. Herald-Sun August 20, 2001

Jun 2002 Still some breaches

Others to be referred to the department for mostly minor breaches are - - - - - - and Belvedere Park Aged Care Service in Sydenham.
HOMES FAIL Herald-Sun June 24, 2002

Jan 2003 On the brink of losing accreditation then granted for 3 years!

TWO Sydenham aged-care homes on the brink of losing accreditation have been granted 11th-hour approvals.
----------------
And Belvedere Park Aged Care Service was due to forfeit its accreditation on February 19 if improvements were not made.

An audit of the Belvedere Park home in January, 2002, said resident lifestyles were critically compromised and health and personal care unacceptable.

Physical environment and safety systems as well as management and staffing were deemed satisfactory.

But spokeswoman Christina Vesk said secondary reviews showed substantial improvements at the each of the 30-bed nursing homes.

Ms Vesk said reports outlining the homes' recent compliance had not yet been released, but the agency had accredited Manchester Lodge until January, 2005, and Belvedere Park to February, 2006.
Aged care homes lift game. Brimbank messenger January 21, 2003


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The Conflict with Nurses

Menere’s record for not paying its bills reached a head in January 2001 when the companies were under pressure. Menere stopped paying into their superannuation and then stopped paying their salaries. The union took their case to the Industrial Relations Commission and the nurses at Kenilworth eventually walked off the job. One report indicates that he had a 10 year history of not paying his nurses.

Menere blamed the department for not paying him what they owned him and even claimed he had paid into the nurses accounts when he had not. Menere’s character is illustrated by his failure to attend the Industrial Relations Commission when summoned and then claiming misunderstanding when he was required to pay.

Jan 2001 Nurses not paid

Nurses at the troubled Kenilworth Private Nursing Home in Ivanhoe have given management until 3.15pm tomorrow to pay outstanding wages or they will walk out.

"The ANF believes that nurses at the Belvedere Nursing Home in Sydenham, which is also run by the same manager, are in a similar situation, having only been paid one-third of their wages, and are considering what action they should take."
Kenilworth nurses to walk out ANF Media Release January 3, 2001

Jan 2001 Blaming the government

They claim not to have been paid for four weeks and that two staff members who recently resigned from the home, in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe, have not received annual leave and long-service payments.

The owner and manager of Kenilworth and Belvedere, Graeme Menere, said last night that the nurses had been paid their wages and blamed the late payment of monies owed by the commonwealth for the delays.
Pay or we’re out - Kenilworth nurses. Australian January 4, 2001

Jan 2001 Department denies it

The Department has made all relevant payments to the service providers at Kenilworth Nursing Home and at Belvedere Park.
Staffing concerns at Kenilworth Nursing Home AUSTR GOVERNMENT DEPT. OF HEALTH AND AGING WEB PAGES January 4, 2001 (accessed June 2006)

Jan 2001 No show at Industrial Relations Meeting

Nursing home operator Graeme Menere did not attend today’s (industrial Relations) meeting.

"We have in fact issued Mr Menere, or his delegate, with a summons from the Industrial Relations Commission seeking his presence in there tomorrow," Ms Sellers said.

Staff simply became "sick and tired" of having their wages withheld after a long history of this happening, she said.

Ms Sellers said Belvedere Park staff had also received two weeks of the four weeks unpaid wages.

She said they had been given assurances by Mr Menere that the rest would be paid.
Nurses at nursing home walk off the job on pay dispute. Australian Associated Press January 4, 2001

Jan 2001 Kenilworth nurses walk off the job

NURSES owed up to $100,000 yesterday walked away from what the Federal Government has labelled Australia’s worst nursing home.

Nurses at Kenilworth Private, in Ivanhoe, claim the owner, Graeme Menere, has refused to pay wages for the past two weeks and superannuation for up to six months.

But Australian Nursing Federation assistant secretary Hannah Sellers said Mr Menere’s legal war with the government had nothing to do with his refusal to pay staff.

"The government funds these homes prospectively and the department has confirmed to me he has been paid in advance," Ms Sellers said.

Mr Menere was issued with a summons to appear today before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
No pay, so nurses walk. Herald-Sun January 5, 2001

Jan 2001 Blaming the computer

But Graeme Menere, owner of the Kenilworth nursing home in Ivanhoe, claimed a computer fault at the Commonwealth Bank was to blame.
Nurse Home Staff Walk Out Over Pay The Age January 5, 2001

Jan 2001 Ongoing non-payment problems for 11 years

He has been pursued by the Australian Nursing Federation for not paying wages intermittently since 1989.
Aged care industry wants owner out. Australian January 5, 2001

Jan 2001 Contempt for the industrial commission

Mr Menere was yesterday ordered by Australian Industrial Relations Commissioner Wayne Blair to pay staff on a weekly instead of fortnightly basis for the next six months and to begin paying superannuation entitlements within 28 days.

Australian Nurses Federation assistant secretary Hannah Sellers said Mr Menere’s subsequent decision to close Kenilworth forced nurses to seek another urgent hearing in the commission early next week.

"We need to establish what exactly is happening here and whether nurses still have jobs to go to," Ms Sellers said.

Mr Menere failed to appear in the commission despite being summonsed by the nurses federation, which was representing his employees.

Commissioner Blair condemned Mr Menere’s absence at the hearing, noting it was not the first time he had ignored a summons to appear or participate in a compulsory pre-hearing conference.

"You have to agree Mr Menere has shown nothing but contempt for the commission," he told Mr Menere’s solicitor.
Residents move out as nursing home shuts. Australian January 6, 2001

Jan 2001 Menere's excuses

The owner of Melbourne’s beleaguered Kenilworth private nursing home today said he would seek an urgent Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) hearing after a ruling against him last week.

Graeme Menere said Friday’s AIRC ruling that he pay staff weekly and begin making superannuation payments "was not made with full knowledge of the facts".

Mr Menere said he was unable to testify before the Commission because he had to attend a meeting with the Department of Health and Aged Care.
Kenilworth owner disputes IRC ruling. Australian Associated Press January 8, 2001

Jan 2001 In bankruptcy - dealing with administrator

ANF industrial organiser Paul Gilbert told the commission the nurses were happy to forgo today’s hearing because they now had "the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with the administrator".
Melbourne nursing home put in receivership. Australian Associated Press January 10, 2001


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The Companies

Mr Menere and his companies both have a chequered history. This is not the first time one of them have entered bankruptcy. Siatta was under an administrator between 1995 and 1997. Graham Menere owned half of Siatta and two thirds of Neviskia. It seems likely that members of this family own the rest as another Menere was listed as a director.

Aug 1998 Siatta in administration from 1995 to 1997

Mr Menere runs two nursing homes - Kenilworth, in Ivanhoe, and Belvedere Park. In December 1995, Saitta Pty Ltd, which trades as Belvedere Park, was placed under administration by a meeting of creditors. Company records list Mr Graeme Menere and Mr Russell Menere as the directors of Saitta.

It is understood the company was placed in administration partly to help it obtain a capital grant from the department for the relocation of the home to Sydenham and to repay creditors. The company finally came out of administration in August 1997.
How One Inspection Revealed A Need For Urgent Action The Age August 24, 1998

Feb 2001 Ownership of companies

Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee
ANSWERS TO ESTIMATES QUESTIONS ON NOTICE : HEALTH AND AGED CARE PORTFOLIO
ASIC records show he (Menere) holds half the Saitta P/L shares and a 2/3 interest in Neviskia P/L. Mr Menere ceased to be a director of both companies on 17 February 2001.
Hansard February 19/20, 2001


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Graeme Menere

By any standards Graeme Menere was a different sort of person. He seems to have had no doubts that he was correct and that he was being victimised. He challenged and fought every step of the way and had some success in overturning sanctions imposed on his nursing homes. Whether he falls into the category I have described in the web page on sociopathy is for you to decide. The press reports tell the story.

His response to financial problems and the agency’s criticisms of his homes in 1998 is interesting. When there were more criticisms he sued the department.

Aug 1998 Response to his responsibilities and to criticism

To make matters worse, Mr Menere indicated he had no intention of paying for the repairs or buying new equipment. Instead, he said, the relatives group would have to raise the money.

He also told them that the home needed a sprinkler system to meet the new accreditation standards imposed by the Commonwealth Government and they would have to pay for this, too. Under the Aged Care Act, all of these things are meant to be provided by the nursing home. Residents’ fees are supposed to cover these costs.

``We Friends of Belvedere and staff would like to send you this letter of petition which expresses our deep concern about the lack of commitment on your part to provide the essential items the residents require, the repairs of equipment and furniture, and the reduction of nursing hours in the home ...’’ they (relatives) wrote.

Mr Menere disputes the allegations made against him and his staff in the standards report. He claims the report which so upset the relatives group and which led to financial sanctions being imposed on the home was plain wrong.

``It was done by a bunch of overzealous bureaucrats who couldn’t organise a booze up on a bucks’ night,’’ Mr Menere told The Age.

``I complained bitterly to the minister, the ombudsmen and the industry association and the report has been withdrawn and the sanctions lifted. We were given a clean bill of health by a new team of monitors two weeks ago.’’

The department insisted that a qualified director of nursing be employed immediately or they would impose sanctions.

Mr Menere lays the blame for his financial difficulties squarely on the Government. He says - and his claim is backed by the industry association - that the Commonwealth has been hopelessly behind in its monthly payments to aged-care facilities.

``They owe me a quarter of a million dollars and so it is impossible to meet your own obligations when there’s no cash flow. Canberra is still not paying on time and that’s what’s caused the problems.’’

Mr Menere also blamed previous staff for not forwarding bills to his accounts department.
How One Inspection Revealed A Need For Urgent Action The Age August 24, 1998

Oct 1999 Disputes report

"There is no serious risk here. There was no serious risk here," he said. "I dispute the whole report."
NURSING HOME BOSS HITS BACK. Herald-Sun October 1,1999


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When further adverse reports appeared in 2000 Menere denied the findings and took to the courts.

Oct 1999 Suing federal authorities

Mr Menere told the Herald Sun recently he was suing federal authorities over the three reports into his 30-bed facility.

He said the government had been trying to force him out of business for years and the reports were ridiculous.
NURSING HOME RUN BY STALKER. Herald-Sun October 15, 1999

Mar 2000 His claims

He said he was taking legal action against the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency and the federal Health and Aged Care Department, claiming they had failed to pay fees, were negligent and had breached their statutory duties.
Residents leave as crisis grows. Herald-Sun March 8, 2000

Mar 2000 An aggressive response

"There is absolutely no reason to be concerned for the wellbeing of any of these eldery people as they are well cared for," he said in a statemet.

He said funding sanctions imposed by the department on the 30-bed nursing home in February last year were being challenged in the Federal Court and at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Mr Menere today said he "totally disagreed" with the assessment, which he said was also being challenged in the courts.

He called for Prime Minister John Howard to order an inquiry into the behaviour of the aged care accreditation agency.
Nursing home chief hits out against criticisms. Australian Associated Press March 8, 2000


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There were still problems in September 2000 and 5 bed licences were revoked.

Sep 2000 Sanctions and appeals

``We’ve had a series of sanctions out on the nursing home under false pretences,’’ he said. ``These are shonky sanctions.’’

The nursing home’s solicitor Colwyn Lloyd said late yesterday the home had won a legal stay on some of the earlier sanctions and would be fighting them in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The revocation of the licences for the five beds, however, remains, as the home has to go through set avenues of appeal through the department before taking it up with the AAT.
Nursing Home Faces Penalties The Age September 22, 2000

Sep 2001 Accusations by Menere

Nursing home owners Neviska Pty Ltd will appeal to the Aged Care Department against the licence sanction today.

The home’s acting care services manager, Graeme Menere, told The Australian yesterday "the report is as false as you can get, they have lied". A part-owner of the home, Mr Menere said there were plans to spend $2 million upgrading the home, including the installation of sprinklers.
Nursing home under threat. The Australian September 22, 2000

Nov 2000 Has not applied for accreditation

"The approved provider of the home has not submitted a complete application for accreditation despite assurance to the department that it would do so.

"And if it does not apply for and receive accreditation, Commonwealth funding of the home will cease on the first of January 2001."
Home faces closure over breaches. Herald-Sun November 8, 2000

Nov 2000 Menere sues again

A Melbourne nursing home is taking legal action after it was accused of mistreating its patients in Federal Parliament yesterday.

But Mr Menere today said the report was false and the patient had been sent to hospital immediately.

"They found no fracture or breaks," Mr Menere told Radio 3AW.

"This resident was very frail and had had a habit of falling before she came to the nursing home and had had a break before coming to the nursing home."

After a series of x-rays the patient was found to have a hair-line fracture, Mr Menere said.

Correct procedure was followed and the case was fully documented in the records, he said.

The hospital was taking the case to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on November 20.

"We are suing the agency who made these outrageous allegations for defamation and breach of the Aged Care Act," he said.

Mr Menere also accused the federal Aged Care Department of setting up the standards agency and giving it the contract to monitor nursing homes instead of to other better qualified bodies, such as the Australian Council of Hospital Standards.
Aust nursing home sues over mistreatment reports. Australian Associated Press November 10, 2000

Jan 2001 Accusing department

Mr Menere said the department had sent ``fake and misleading’’ letters to 15 patients, driving them away, and had closed five beds. He is hoping that the home will be re-accredited after its assessment in a couple of weeks and reach its capacity of 30 once more.
Kenilworth Is Home For Three The Age January 2, 2001

Jan 2001 Sanctions overturned - suing the department - seeking injunctions

Mr Menere, the former vice-president of the Victorian Nursing Homes Association, said the decision was based on old and inaccurate information.

But Mr Menere says that on December 22 the Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned sanctions on Kenilworth and another home he owns and manages, the Belvedere Nursing Home in Melbourne’s north-west.

"We have been cleared by the AAT, but there has been a communication breakdown between the Victorian and the federal branch of the Aged Care Department," he said.

Mr Menere’s company is suing the department for damages in the Supreme Court. It is also seeking a Federal Court injunction to stop the department attacking Kenilworth.
Nursing home fights for its name and funding. Australian January 3, 2001

Jan 2001 Claims he is owed money

Meanwhile, Mr Menere was seeking $500,000 he claimed the Aged Care Department owed the two nursing homes following a Administrative Appeals Tribunal win on December 22.

"All the sanctions put on us by the Department of Health and Aged Care over the last few years were overturned by the tribunal," Mr Menere said.

"The Department of Health and Aged Care had been using those sanctions they’d put on us, that we’d vigorously challenged, to enable them to deny us being fully paid over the years."
Nursing home promises to pay staff Australian Associated Press January 4, 2001


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Menere claims to be a past vice-president of the Victorian Nursing Homes Association. By 2001 his former colleagues didn’t want anything more to do with him.

Jan 2001 Industry critics of Menere

THE detractors of Graeme Peter Menere portray him as the unacceptable face of the nursing home industry.
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"In my view, he has no commitment to delivering professional care standards for his residents," a senior nursing home industry official told The Australian. "He gives us a bad name. He should have been run out of the industry years ago."

The official said Mr Menere had survived in the industry through legal manoeuvring.

"If he had spent as much money looking after his residents as he has on legal fees, he'd be miles in front," the official said. "But instead, he's managed to stay one step ahead of the (Aged Care) Department through legal action."'

He said Mr Menere, 50, believed the Government and unions were trying to destroy his business.
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Mr Menere claims to be a former vice-president of the Victorian Nursing Homes Association. He said his company, Neviskia, purchased Kenilworth in 1979.
Aged care industry wants owner out. Australian January 5, 2001


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Mr Menere’s repeated failure to appear before the Industrial Commission after being summoned has been commented on. Here are the commissioner’s comments.

Dec 2000 Failing to attend Industrial Commission

This conference, set down for 8.30am this day, required the attendance of Mr Menere, who failed to attend earlier hearings before this Commission and, at this time, has not given effect to the directions issued on 13 December 2000. Mr Menere failed to attend, despite written instructions from his representative regarding both the proceedings and the implications of non-attendance.
Order in ANF vs Kenilworth NH (C No 37100 of 2000) by Commissioner Blair Decemver 18, 2000

Dec 2000 Not credible

THE COMMISSIONER: - - - - - - The Commission would indicate to Ms Williams representing Mr Menere that Mr Menere's track record in this Commission and undertakings given by him so far have not proved to be credible.
NOTIFICATION PURSUANT TO SECTION 99 OF THE ACT OF A DISPUTE RE NON PAYMENT OF WAGES AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION COMMISSIONER BLAIR C NO 14326 OF 2000 DECEMBER 28, 2000


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In 1994 I was assured that the federal department carefully checked the probity of aged care providers. In 1996/7 the newly elected federal government rewrote the regulations in order to turn this into a competitive marketplace. The probity requirements were removed.

That Menere had a criminal conviction had been known to the department since 1998 and it received publicity in the press in 1999. In the market the rights of the individual are enshrined over the rights of the public to protection and it proved impossible to act on this. It was not until the regulations were changed in 2001 that those with criminal convictions were prevented from becoming directors.

Oct 1999 A convicted stalker

A CONVICTED criminal is running a Victorian nursing home, sparking warnings families should check the background of aged-care providers.

A man convicted last year of stalking and violating an intervention order is the Federal Government's approved provider for Belvedere Park Nursing Home, Sydenham.

Graeme Menere was convicted and given a three-month suspended jail sentence in Broadmeadows Court on May 1 last year.

His nursing home was investigated by the Aged Care Standards Agency three times last year after it was declared a serious risk to residents. But his licence was not revoked.
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Friends of a woman who was harassed and used to work at Mr Menere's nursing home said they were horrified a convicted stalker was running a home for the elderly.
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Ms Trewern also said her friend was disgusted the Federal Government considered him a suitable provider. "He phoned her repeatedly, broke into her home and threatened her children and still they refuse to cancel his nursing home licence," she said.
NURSING HOME RUN BY STALKER. Herald-Sun October 15, 1999

Mar 2000 Minister took no action

AGED Care Minister Bronwyn Bishop allowed a substandard nursing home to remain open with federal funding although the owner was convicted of a criminal offence.

A few months after the conviction, the nursing home failed an inspection audit and was rated unacceptable in all three areas of care standards.

Despite failing three subsequent inspections, it was given only temporary sanctions, which allowed it to continue operating virtually unaffected.
Stalker Allowed To Go On Running Nursing Home Sun Herald March 12, 2000


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Responses by agency officials to a senate committee are fascinating (see more later). One can only ask whether the agency and the minister are for some reason denied access to court records so that they cannot confirm criminality when the culprit simply denies it? Even after Mr Menere admitted it to the press the department sat on its hands for another 7 months. It did not have the legal backing to act.

May 2000 Department tardy

Department of Aged Care officials told a Senate committee hearing this week they were still trying to establish if Mr Menere had a criminal conviction, even though the claim was made in May 1998.

The department's acting compliance director, Jenny Hefford, said a letter from Mr Menere to the department on January 27, 2000, claimed he had no known convictions for indictable offences.

Mr Menere yesterday confirmed a conviction to the Herald Sun, saying it involved a former fiance and he intended to appeal against it.

He was convicted of stalking and breaching an intervention order, for which he received a three-month suspended jail term.
Owner under investigation. Herald-Sun May 27, 2000


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National Australia Bank eventually stepped in and called in the receiver putting Neviskia and the Kenilworth Nursing Home out of business.

Jan 2001 Attacks NAB which put Neviskia into receivership

Outside the commission yesterday, Mr Menere accused the National Australia Bank, which appointed the receiver last Friday, of overreacting, saying he was confident Kenilworth would achieve accreditation.

He said the company that owned Kenilworth, Neviskia Pty Ltd, could trade through its difficulties once it gained accreditation.

But the receiver appointed by the bank, Simon Wallace-Smith, said the business would "probably go on the market".

Mr Wallace-Smith said there was a mortgage over the property and a debenture over the company's assets, but he was yet to determine the full extent of Neviskia's liabilities.
`Worst' aged home into receivership. Australian January 11, 2001


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In 2001 government moved to revise the regulations making it illegal for any one with a criminal conviction to be a director of a nursing home company. Menere had no choice but to step aside as a director and manager. He was not prevented from holding a dominant share and from appointing a director or manager who would do what he required.

Feb 2001 Menere removed as director - will appeal

THE operator of two Melbourne nursing homes has been removed under new Government regulations.

Graeme Menere was removed as operator of Kenilworth and Belvedere Park nursing homes in Melbourne because of a stalking conviction in May 1998.

Both homes were sanctioned last year for poor conditions. By Christmas, Kenilworth had lost all its residents and was last month placed in receivership.

Mr Menere said yesterday he would appeal against the decision to remove him because it was based on what he described as a wrongful conviction.
Nursing home boss ban. Herald-Sun February 14, 2001


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System failure

Menere and the department were locked in a bitter battle. The opposition took up the issue and attacked the minister for her inaction. She ducked.

Mar 2000 Minister attacked

Federal Aged Care Minister Bronwyn Bishop failed to take any action against a Victorian nursing home for 18 months, despite it failing three inspections, parliament heard today.
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"Minister, why did you allow residents at this facility to be placed at risk over an 18 month period while you did nothing?"

But Mrs Bishop said while a report on the home identified serious risk, the matter was before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court.

"Therefore I really can't comment on the matter," she said.
Conditions at another nursing home questioned in parliament. Australian Associated Press March 8, 2000

Mar 2000 Minister has known about criminal conviction

Belvedere Park owner Graeme Menere was convicted and given a three-month suspended jail sentence in May 1998 for stalking an employee.

The case was specifically drawn to Mrs Bishop's attention by the Federal Opposition last October.
Stalker Allowed To Go On Running Nursing Home Sun Herald March 12, 2000


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The problem of course was an ideological one - the belief that health and aged care were like any other business and could be treated in the same way. Government made major regulatory changes in 1996/7 to turn the care of vulnerable aged citizens into a competitive marketplace. One consequence of this was that businessmen entering the sector would be treated like, and have the same rights as, businessmen in any other sector. The Nursing Union challenged the utility of these regulations in regard to the failure to act against the Kenilworth Nursing Home.

Nov 2000 Union calls for changes

The Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has accused the Federal Minister for Aged Care, Bronwyn Bishop, of failing to fulfill her duty, and has called on the Federal Government to amend its aged care legislation to ensure residents of homes are protected. The call was sparked by disgraceful conditions at the Kenilworth Nursing Home in Melbourne.
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The Government has applied sanctions on the home and has barred the proprietor from filling unoccupied beds with new residents. The ANF says this was a necessary first step but that it does nothing to protect the residents already in the home.
Nursing home disgrace:: Demand for rules upgrade The Guardian November 15, 2000


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A long and penetrating analysis in the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee in 2001 in which the department tried to stone wall provides interesting insights. It appears that even when regulations were brought in to remove directors who had criminal convictions these undesirables could continue to own large sections of the company and appoint directors and managers of their choosing. Control by the undesirable person was simply changed to a lever which that person could use without the public being aware of it.

In addition to this the onus was put on the private company to vet directors criminality - the department was not going to take any action in this regard. A bizarre and invisible form of self regulation. The government and the department is simply washing its hands of the issue. I have removed some repeat statements and irrelevancies as attempts were made to avoid the questions.

Feb 2001 Aware of criminal conviction - Response to Parliamentary Question

Answer to Questions
(b) It was necessary to consider more than just whether Mr Menere was convicted of an indictable offence. The detail of the offence and its implications for the approved provider's suitability needed to be established before any further action could be contemplated. In the meantime amendments to the Aged Care Act 1997 meant that a key personnel convicted of an indictable offence was automatically a disqualified individual. Therefore, there was no need to consider the full detail of the offence.
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The Department first became aware of the conviction in September 1998, following an anonymous complaint.
Hansard February 19/20, 2001

Feb 2001 Interview with departmental officials

Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee HEALTH AND AGED CARE PORTFOLIO

Senator CHRIS EVANS-Thanks, Ms Hefford. Perhaps we could take a couple of examples. For instance, Belvedere Park Nursing Home is, I understand, owned by the same owner as the Kenilworth Nursing Home and had a similar history in terms of unsatisfactory reports. Kenilworth, I think with only three residents left, was closed, but Belvedere Park was granted an exemption. Can you explain to me the logic there?

Ms Hefford-They are two different approved providers and two different companies, although you are probably aware that one key personnel, one director, was the same across both companies. There were substantial differences in the buildings. Kenilworth was not certified and in its current structure is not able to be certified. Belvedere was able to be certified. Although the department had previously denied certification, the building did not represent risk in terms of fire safety or any of those issues.
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Senator CHRIS EVANS-But when it (Belvedere Park) was granted an exemption it was not certified. You would be aware that that particular home had a history of poor reports.

Ms Hefford-The advice that we had from the agency was that in the last three months of last year care at Belvedere had improved substantially. The company had also applied for accreditation at Belvedere in mid-December.
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However, during that same period we continually monitored care at Kenilworth and we continued to be concerned. On Christmas Day, on Boxing Day, on the subsequent day, we had staff there who were there at change of shift and we continually noted that the new shift did not arrive. Sometimes staff were required to work a double shift because replacement staff did not come in. That did not happen in Belvedere; it did happen at Kenilworth.
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Kenilworth. We were in contact with the approved provider throughout that holiday period. He had said that there were staff coming on who did not then arrive when we went to the service. The delegate eventually made a decision on 29 December to not give exceptional circumstances to Kenilworth.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-He did not apply for accreditation for Belvedere Park until 14 December and was not certified until 16 February, and it is still not accredited at this stage?

Ms Hefford-There was an accreditation audit on 16 to 18 January and the view of the assessors on exiting the service was that they believed it was meeting the care standards. A delegate in the agency’s office in Adelaide has yet to formally announce a decision, but it looks reasonably positive.
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Senator CHRIS EVANS-I forgot to ask a question when we were talking about Kenilworth and Belvedere. I have seen in the paper reports that Mr Graham Menere has been disqualified as an individual under the new section 10A of the act. Is that correct?
Ms Hefford-Yes.
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The disqualification provisions came into force on 18 January.
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The new provisions specifically relate to a person being a disqualified individual for the purposes of being a member of the key personnel, and they relate to very specific areas. As I say, those provisions commenced on 18 January, so that a person who was in the category of disqualified individual effectively became disqualified on that day. Mr Menere, who you referred to, is a person who falls into that category and, therefore, was considered to be disqualified with effect from 18 January.
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Senator CHRIS EVANS-On what basis was he disqualified?

Mr Goggs-He has been convicted of an indictable offence.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-This is the same basis on which complaints were made to the department some years ago.

Ms Hefford-Yes.

Mr Goggs-I understand so, Senator, yes.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-Last time we discussed it I think Ms Murnane was at pains to say we could not establish that he had been convicted. I think I first raised it in May 2000 and that related to some complaints you had received two years before that. How are you suddenly able to decide that he was convicted now? When we last talked you were unable, and had been unable for some years, to confirm what we had been putting to you about this gentleman and now you suddenly are able to confirm that. What has changed?

Mr Goggs-I understand, Senator, that further checking was done prior to the commencement of those new provisions and it was conclusively ascertained from the court at which the conviction was recorded that that was the case.
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Senator CHRIS EVANS
-It is true that the date of his conviction is some time prior to 1998, isn’t it, Mr Goggs?

Mr Goggs-It was in either 1997 or 1998. I just cannot remember off the top of my head.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-The point I am trying to make, and which you will probably understand, is that he has been a convicted person for some time. It was brought to the department’s attention some three years or more ago. I am not quite sure but last time when I asked about it in estimates in May 2000 there was some technical problem with the assertion that he was convicted. Why are we now able under the new act to decide that we can find out that he was convicted when we could not previously? I understand what has changed with the act, but I do not understand what happened with the investigation of Mr Menere.

Mr Goggs-I am not clear why there is a difference now from then, but Mr Menere had made certain assertions in relation to the validity of his conviction. On the most recent checks with the court concerned, it now appears that the assertions that he had made were not correct and that there was a valid conviction and it still stands.

Dr Graham-Senator, I think to some extent the new legislation is much more specific about an indictable offence being the criterion for unsuitability. The industry was advised of the new legislation and we received a letter from the company concerned, indicating that he would no longer be a key personnel.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-You finally got him because he confessed, did he?

Dr Graham-The obligation is on the industry.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-Yes, well, some would say the obligation was on the department since 1997. That might be a bit hard. You are telling me that you finally found out that he had an indictable offence because he confessed to it?

Dr Graham-No. We found out that he did have an indictable offence. Part of the earlier debate may have been the relevance of that indictable offence. The new legislation makes that very apparent.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-No, Dr Graham, that is not right. That is not right. I do not think we ought to go down that path. We had a very clear discussion about this. I raised originally why you had not responded to a complaint from people concerned about him having a conviction for stalking. You advised me-and we can go back to the Hansard and confirm this-that in fact the complaint had been mislaid for a couple of years. When we finally pursued it at estimates you admitted that you did have a complaint, that it had not been acted upon, and that you would follow the matter up.

As I recall, in May when I further pressed the matter with you about Mr Menere who, quite frankly, had been notorious and had been the subject of much press coverage about this conviction-it was known to everybody, it seems, but the department; but you did know because you had received complaints-you then said to me you were not able to ascertain whether or not he had been convicted. That was your evidence in May 2000. I do not have the Hansard in front of me, but I will get that if you want. It was not a question about the act. Ms Murnane said to me she had not been able to ascertain, and the then legal adviser said he had not been able to ascertain, whether or not he had been convicted.

Ms Murnane-That is true.
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Mr Goggs-I think I can confirm that we did seek yet further clarification from independent legal advisers in relation to the status of the conviction of Mr Menere close to the end of last year, and that confirmed that the conviction was made and still stands.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-You confirmed that when, Mr Goggs?

Mr Goggs-As I understand it, that was in November or December of last year. That issue was put specifically to the approved provider of both Kenilworth and Belvedere and, in response to that issue being raised with them, the approved providers in both cases indicated that Mr Menere would be removed as a member of the key personnel.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-So, when you fronted them with what you thought now was conclusive evidence, that is when they said he would be removed?

Mr Goggs-Yes.
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The link between the factors and the suitability is not as clear cut as the link between being a disqualified individual and not being permitted to be a member of the key personnel. So then in relation to being suitable to be an approved provider, that is just one of the factors that goes to making up the decision as to whether either the provider or the key personnel are suitable.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-But you were quite clear in your evidence that it was not until November or December last year that you actually got to the point, despite receiving the complaint in May 1998, of deciding that you knew that Mr Menere was a convicted stalker. Is that right?

Mr Goggs-Yes, that is correct, Senator.
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As a disqualified individual, he is not eligible to be a member of the key personnel, which means that he is not to be one of the people with responsibility for management of the service. He is not to be a person who has an executive decision making role at the service. Nor is he to be responsible for the overall provision of nursing care, or to be responsible for the provision of managing the day-to-day care of residents.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-What does that mean for ownership?

Mr Goggs-It means that, to the extent that he was a director of the company which was the approved provider, he should not be a director of that company, given that the directors are the people who make the executive decisions in relation to the affairs of the company.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-I am not very good on corporate law-in fact, my knowledge of it is basically non-existent, Mr Goggs-but what does that mean if he still owns the thing, is the beneficiary of any profits from the nursing home, but is not included as a director? Is that precluded, or not?

Mr Goggs-If he is not a person who is responsible for making executive decisions-for example, if he is not a director of the company-I think he would not be precluded.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-I am not sure what the structure is, and maybe we ought to do this in terms of a hypothetical and not in relation to Mr Menere, but a disqualified person may still be the owner and/or beneficiary of any proceeds from the operation of a nursing home? Is that fair?

Mr Goggs-Yes, I think it is fair to say that, Senator.
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Senator CHRIS EVANS-Do you have any advice as to ownership of the companies?
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Senator CHRIS EVANS-Thank you very much for that. While we are on our favourite customer, can somebody explain to me the import and implications of the AAT decision in December 2000 which overturned sanctions against Belvedere Park and Kenilworth?
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Mr Goggs- - - - - - At Kenilworth in relation to three of the sanctions that were imposed by the department on the approved provider at that home, the tribunal determined that while there had been a noncompliance with the responsibilities of the approved provider, the measure of the sanction that was imposed and the way the sanction was imposed was not appropriate. For example, for one sanction where it was in place for a longer period the tribunal said the sanction should only have been in place for a period of approximately six weeks, and for two sanctions where the decision had been made to go straight to the imposition of a sanction on the basis of immediate and severe risk, the tribunal found that, while there had been a noncompliance, it was not sufficient to warrant moving straight to a sanction on that basis.
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And, just finishing, in relation to Kenilworth, there was a fourth sanction that was the subject of those proceedings and which has not yet been resolved, so those proceedings are still pending in relation to that.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-Have you appealed the AAT decision?

Mr Goggs-No, we have not, Senator.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-Are you proposing to appeal?

Mr Goggs-It is not proposed at this stage, Senator, no.
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In relation to Belvedere, the tribunal was looking at two matters and, in relation to the two sanctions that were imposed there, the tribunal also decided that it was not appropriate for the department to have moved to the imposition of sanctions on the basis of immediate and severe risk, even though there had been a noncompliance. So the practical effect is that the sanctions that were in place that were reviewed by the tribunal are no longer in place.
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Mr Goggs-Yes. The sanctions are as if they had never been imposed.
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Senator CHRIS EVANS
-So is the practical effect of that that the owner of Kenilworth now has 25 bed licences-

Ms Hefford-Twenty-five today.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-which are available for sale?

Ms Hefford-Yes.

Mr Goggs-That is correct, Senator.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-And there are five in dispute?

Ms Hefford-Correct.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-And that is still the subject of a decision from the AAT, so in effect he has won back those licences that were proposed to be stripped from him. Is that fair?

Ms Hefford-Yes.

Mr Goggs-Yes, that is right, Senator.
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There has been a further decision in relation to an intention to revoke a further five places, but that has not yet proceeded to sanction, so that the only allocated places that have currently been removed from that approved provider are the five that are subject to the proceedings in the AAT.
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Senator CHRIS EVANS-Effectively, there are no sanctions at Belvedere Park now?

Mr Goggs-That is correct.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-What does that decision mean for your sanctions regime? It seemed to me, to a layman reading the decision, that it was a fairly decisive decision in favour of the provider. Has that caused a rethink of the sanctions regime and whether it is going to prove to be effective?
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Mr Podger - - - - - - The AAT’s decision in respect of both homes was decided, as was mentioned, on very specific facts, and the AAT decisions are not binding in terms of precedent, unlike decisions of the court. Those were factors for us not to appeal. Frankly, there were several aspects of the decision that the department would seriously question and its legal advisers would have disputed, but in view of all the circumstances and the lack of precedence set by the decision
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Senator CHRIS EVANS-If the department has information that one of the directors might have been convicted of a criminal offence, what then is the process when you get that information? Do you write to them and say, ‘Is this true’?

Ms Hefford-Sorry, can I just go back and say something? The amendments make it clear that it is the approved provider’s responsibility to identify anybody who is a disqualified individual and the department has written to all approved providers and explained this process.
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Senator CHRIS EVANS-How is it dealt with? What does the department do, presuming that they do not all confess?

Ms Hefford-We wrote to every approved provider. The department is not responsible under the legislation for identifying disqualified individuals.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-I understand that, Ms Hefford, and I know that is a cause of some concern, but you told me you got a complaint or had been notified. If I write to you now and say there is a convicted stalker running two nursing homes in Melbourne, what do you do?

Ms Hefford-Probably a number of things. The issue of the key personnel would go to Mr James. If I thought there was any possible impact on care, I would look at whether or not there had been a site visit lately and things of that kind, but the disqualified individual issue is one for Mr James.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-What do you do, Mr James?

Mr James-We are still bedding down the arrangements but as Ms Hefford has described it is accurate. The responsibility is on the provider to notify us and to check their own key personnel. That process, I know, from having spoken to the providers in a number of states, is pretty well in train.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-I am getting lots of letters about your regs, too.

Mr James-That is interesting to hear. If we have information, then obviously we have to determine the veracity of that information. We would write to the provider and say, ‘We have this information that seems to indicate that there may be issues. You may have someone with a convicted indictable offence or a bankrupt,’ et cetera. Then we have to wait and hear what they have to say and, following that, we have sanctions action if it does prove to be the case that they do have someone. They actually have to remove a key person or else we can take sanctions action.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-Yes. I am more interested in the concerns I have raised in relation to the complaints system and the investigation of Mr Menere. What do you do proactively? Do you write to me as a convicted criminal and if I say, ‘No, I’m not,’ is that the end of the matter?

Mr James-No.

Senator CHRIS EVANS-I am just concerned at what you are doing. You are very keen, it seems, to push the emphasis back onto the providers, and I understand that, but what do we do when someone like Mr Menere denies it?

Mr James-When all these cases come to our attention we make our inquiries with the appropriate channels-courts, et cetera-to try and determine the matter. I am not familiar with the Menere case myself particularly but-

Senator CHRIS EVANS-But you can assure me that if you get complaints like that you will actively pursue them?

Mr James-We investigate them, we check with the AFP and we do the appropriate checks, absolutely; we do not just file them away for another day. Where information comes to our attention we have to follow it up.
SENATE COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE-Legislation Hansard February 20 2001


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Belvedere Park Nursing Home finally closed
(Update October 2007)

It took 4 years of continuing problems, as Menere almost certainly continued to pull the strings in the background, before Belvedere Park was finally closed. Once again the legal system, structured to preserve the rights of individuals rather than protect vulnerable citizens, tried to rescue Menere in 2007.

Graham Menere was barred from managing the company but companies can get around this by appointing a family member to do what they tell them. Who is Russell Menere?

We can only imagine what went on in the nursing home during that period and how much better off the residents would have been had the home been closed with Kenilworth in 2001. This is what any sensible handling of the situation would have ensured.

Once again we hear the "isolated incident" rationalisation from the industry, and the platitudes from the minister who will do nothing to fix the problem he describes so accurately. The minister for aging only 2 months earlier gave an undertaken in writing (read his letter here) to fix exactly this problem yet remarkably he refrains from saying so publicly now - a media opportunity. This looks like another example of tricky wording and unfulfilled promises - or is he simply buckling under pressure from his corporate supporters before an election.

(When the minister was confronted, by a parliamentary colleague, with the automatic granting of approved provider status to a Citigroup company, inspite of Citigroups track record, he promised to close the loophole.)

Menere can open another nursing home any time he likes and we might hear more about him in relationship to nursing homes in a year or two.

Sept 2007 Belvedere closed by authorities

A MELBOURNE nursing home described by health inspectors as "the worst in Australia" will be closed by the end of the week, with staff owed up to $1 million in unpaid entitlements.

The Australian Nursing Foundation has described the treatment of 32 staff at the Belvedere Park Private Nursing Home in Sydenham as "disgusting" and has vowed to take the case to the federal Workplace Ombudsman.

The future of the 30-bed home was jeopardised when federal accreditation and funding was withdrawn last month.

A four-day inspection showed that 42 of 44 aged-care standards had been breached.

Among the findings were that residents had not been receiving appropriate clinical care, were living in a physically unsafe environment, and were at serious risk of infection through poor cleaning practices.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned the decision and allowed it to stay open temporarily in a bid to raise standards, following the appointment of an administrator. But the home's 25 residents were transferred to other facilities, leaving owners Saitta Pty Ltd with no income and staff without pay for the past four weeks.
Worst' nursing home will close, leaving staff $1m short The Age September 18.2007 (for full report see
http://www.agedcarecrisis.com/acc/show_news.asp?id=newsitem&item=news2337

Aug 2007 Is Russell Menere a relative

Saitta managing director Russell Menere said the action would most likely force his company to the wall, putting about 30 people out of work.

The company was applying to overturn the decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal at 11am (AEST) tomorrow, he said.:
----------------------
The Government was trying to force small operators like him out of business to favour "mates" running larger companies, he said.
Nursing home to lose funding AAP August 21, 2007

Aug 2007 The industry never sees red flags

The Chief Executive of Aged and Community Care Victoria Gerard Mansour says he is confident it is an isolated situation.

"It's extremely regrettable to have so many non-compliances reported at that one facility when we provide such high quality care to over 50 thousand residents every day," he said.
Nursing home ordered to close ABC News August 22, 2007

Aug 2007 Graham Menere and the minister

A NURSING home described as Australia's worst had faeces smeared on equipment, undated food in the fridge and pathology specimens stored with medicines, a tribunal heard yesterday.

But the owners of the Belvedere Park Nursing Home in Sydenham may be allowed to care for the elderly again, even if its closure goes ahead.

Aged Care Minister Christopher Pyne said owning a sub-standard home did not automatically disqualify players from the industry.
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Mr Gunst, for the Department of Health and Ageing, said that the home had a history of non-compliance.

He told the tribunal part-owner Graeme Menere was a convicted stalker who repeatedly breached intervention orders and still managed the home, despite being banned from working in a nursing home by the Act.
Belvedere Park Nursing Home covered in filth Herald Sun August 23, 2007


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Appeal Rejected (Update September 2008)

Siatta Pty Ltd closed the home but appealed the decision to the Administration Appeals Tribunal even though the home had closed. The decision of the tribunal was finally handed down a year later on August 5th, 2008. The tribunal considered the evidence that the home posed a risk to residents at some length. The comments are interesting because of the legal difficulties they reveal in determining whether an owner is actively interfering in the operation of the business. It would be pretty obvious that someone living in Brisbane and Sydney who seldom visited the facility in Brisbane could not be responsible for running the facility and being responsible for the residents. Crossing the t's and dotting the i's to determine this legally was not so easy.

In this instance we have someone who the evidence suggests is unable to be objective and logical, and who was not advised by a lawyer. It would be a very different story if this were a big company that had hired the best legal minds to help them to do so and then defend them when they were sanctioned. The tribunal did conclude this and rejected Menere's application to have the decision overturned.

 

Aug 2008 Tribunal's decision

Mr Graeme Menere was employed by the applicant in what was described as an administrative capacity until the closure of Belvedere Park in September.His role at Belvedere Park is the subject of consideration later in these reasons.  The Tribunal advised Mr Graeme Menere to obtain independent legal advice with respect to some of the questions asked of him and suspended his cross examination to permit this to occur.
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Mr Russell Menere, a Director of the applicant company and a person responsible for the executive decisions as well as some management and possibly some of the day to day operations of the applicant, was present during the first day of the hearing but was not called to give evidence.  The failure to call him by the applicant is a matter of concern – particularly when, among other issues with which his evidence would have been of assistance, there was an issue concerning the extent of Ms Stekly's role and the involvement of Mr Graeme Menere in the executive decision making and/or management and/or day to day operations of Belvedere Park.  The Tribunal will return to this issue later in these reasons.
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The applicant was incorporated on 30 September 1977. The shareholders of the applicant are the family trusts of Messrs Graeme and Russell Menere, each holding a 50% interest.  At all relevant times Belvedere Park was the only business operated by the applicant.  The directors of the applicant are Mr Russell Menere and his wife Mrs Joan Menere.  The latter was appointed on 17 February 2001 and replaced Mr Graeme Menere who resigned as a director at or about the same time.  Mr Graeme Menere's resignation followed his conviction for the indictable offence of stalking for which he was sentenced to three months imprisonment suspended for two years. That conviction resulted in him being categorised as a “disqualified individual,” a fact accepted by the applicant for the purposes of this hearing but not accepted by Mr Graeme Menere. Mr Graeme Menere seems to take the view that since his conviction occurred in a Magistrates' Court he has not been convicted of an indictable offence.  This is not so. The Tribunal is satisfied that he stands convicted of an indictable offence which was tried summarily
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Despite there being knowledge amongst some of the assessors and Departmental officers about the earlier involvement of the Agency and/or department with the Menere interests there is no material which evidenced a 'campaign' against any of the Meneres or the applicant.  The Tribunal is satisfied that the allegation of there being a 'campaign' was totally unfounded and not supported by any, let alone any creditable, evidence.
The Findings
The Role Of Mr Graeme Menere And The Responsibility For Decision Making At Belvedere Park
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A disqualified person is not entitled to hold a position as a member of the ‘key personnel' of an approved provider
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An issue before the Tribunal is whether Mr Graeme Menere took responsibility for some executive decisions and/or for some of the management or day to day operations of the applicant, that is, did he take a role as a member of the key personnel.
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On behalf of the applicant it was claimed that Mr Graeme Menere was an employee of the applicant undertaking administrative or clerical functions, including the payment of bills, staff wages, ensuring grants were received, and the preparation of annual budget for consideration by Mr Russell Menere.  Mr Graeme Menere also claimed that he acted the conduit between the staff at the nursing home, conveying any requests which involved executive decision making to Mr Russell Menere and relaying the latter's decisions to the staff. This was also Ms Stekly's understanding.
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The Tribunal experienced considerable difficulty with Mr Graeme Menere's evidence.  The Tribunal found him to be obtuse.  For example, when asked about management he responded “…management has wide-ranging meanings.  A person manages how they dress…” He was argumentative, for instance, in relation to who had authority in Victoria to sign cheques on behalf of the applicant he stated “Russell was in Melbourne from time to time, why wouldn't he be able to do that?” He was also unduly pedantic, for example when asked if he acted as a manager of the nursing home, he responded it was impossible to manage a nursing home as a nursing home was a building and that he did not know how to manage a building
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In an affidavit, sworn on 21 August in support of an application to the Tribunal to stay the operation of the sanctions, Mr Graeme Menere stated that he had only visited Belvedere Park on “a few occasions…”It is evident that he was there more often. - - - - - Mr Graeme Menere also attended the meeting of relations of the residents on the evening of 20 August.  It follows that the Tribunal is satisfied that Mr Graeme Menere made more visits than he was prepared to disclose and that Ms Stekly was mistaken in her evidence that Mr Graeme Menere only visited Belvedere Park about once every six months
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That Mr Russell Menere attended the first day of the Tribunal's hearing of this case but did not give oral evidence gives rise to an apprehension that he did not want to take responsibility for the executive decision making or management in respect of Belvedere Park.
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The Tribunal doubts this evidence which could have easily been confirmed by Mr Russell Menere had he been called.
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However, the following incidents leave the Tribunal satisfied that Mr Graeme Menere had greater responsibility with respect to the decision making at Belvedere Park than he was prepared to admit:
(a number of examples followed including - extracts only)
it was Ms Stekly's evidence that she had discussed with Mr Graeme Menere the notion of installing a key pad in place of a latch to control ingress and egress through the front door of Belvedere Park and that he approved the expenditure for the purchase and installation
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Mr Graeme Menere participated in the exit meeting at the end of Dr Lett and Ms Clarke's support visit of 3 August and asked questions,
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the role of Mr Graeme Menere as outlined by Mr Gilbert in negotiating an agreement confirmed in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the salary to be paid to Belvedere Park's nursing staff.  - - - - - - - -  It was Mr Gilbert's evidence that no mention was made of Mr Russell Menere. Finally, Mr Graeme Menere notified the staff in writing of the agreement reached and commended it to them. Ms Stekly confirmed Mr Graeme Menere was the person responsible for negotiating the agreement and commending it to the staff;
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It was Ms Stekly's evidence that she had only met Mr Russell Menere twice, on one occasion at the end of 2006 or early in 2007 at Mr Graeme Menere's wedding.  Otherwise she had telephone contact with him 'maybe once a year.' Mr Graeme Menere was unable in his evidence to say how often Mr Russell Menere visited Melbourne to attend to business associated with Belvedere Park.  - - - - - - - - The Tribunal additionally notes the delegate's conclusion that on 20 August Mr Russell Menere was unable to name the person who was currently managing Belvedere Park following Ms Stekly's resignation. It would seem reasonable to conclude, and the Tribunal does conclude, that Mr Russell Menere was a very remote executive decision maker who took very little active involvement in Belvedere Park and rarely participated in the management of the facility.  The Tribunal is satisfied that both Ms Stekly and Mr Graeme Menere participated in the responsibility for the executive decision making and management of the applicant.
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There is no evidence before the Tribunal which suggests that there was any correspondence, including email contact, between Ms Stekly and Mr Russell Menere.  The Tribunal accepts that Mr Russell Menere lived initially in Brisbane and latterly in Sydney.  At all relevant times he worked in a capacity which had nothing to do with the applicant's business.  The evidence suggests that the first time since 2000 that Mr Russell Menere visited Belvedere Park was on 20 August (2007).
---------------------------------
However, the Tribunal is satisfied that the evidence discloses that sometimes Mr Graeme Menere took it upon himself to decide and implement what ought be done in repair of day to day operations without reference to Mr Russell Menere.

The Tribunal considered the level of sanction which should be applied. However, the immediacy and seriousness of the areas identified left the Tribunal satisfied that the sanction decided by the delegate was the correct and preferred sanction. In addition to the immediate and serious risk to residents there were a number of other factors which influenced the Tribunal in reaching its determination.  The Tribunal could gain no satisfaction from the fact that Mr Russell Menere was not prepared to give evidence that improvements would be properly planned and that leadership would be provided as required by Standard Part 1 Item 1.5.  The Tribunal was not assured from Mr Graeme Menere's evidence that he would not continue to participate in the executive decision making, the management or the day to day operations of Belvedere Park, as he does not accept that he has a conviction which disqualifies him from participating as a member of the key personnel.  Finally, the fact that the applicant reopened without informing the appointed administrator, and contrary to the Tribunal's direction, does not inspire confidence that compliance with any conditions imposed would be maintained.  While these other factors do not play any part in the determination of the serious and immediate risk they do not act to bolster confidence that any lesser sanction than those applied would be more appropriate.

To read the full text of these and the many other articles describing what happened at the Belvedere Park Nursing Home in 2007 in more detail go to the Aged Care Crisis search web page (link below) and search for "Belvedere Park" etc.



Another company Peninsula Care Pty Ltd is owned by a couple with a criminal conviction for fraud in their nursing homes. They named their children as directors, claim they are no longer "key personel", and take no part in management. Hard to believe!

For Updates:- A good way to check for recent developments in aged care is to go to the aged care crisis group's search page and enter the name of the company, nursing home or key words relating to any other matter in the search box. Most significant press reports are flagged there. The aged care crisis web site has recently been restructured and some of the older links used from this site may not work.

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Web Page History
This page created Sept 2006 by
Michael Wynne
Updated October 2007, September 2008