HammondCare affirms DBMAS is for all

A newspaper has today seriously misrepresented HammondCare and its service provision and has been asked to print a retraction and engage in becoming more familiar with HammondCare.

The article relates to the awarding to HammondCare from July 1, 2013 of the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service contract in NSW. The former provider was NSW Health.

Chief Executive Dr Stephen Judd said the article was outrageously inaccurate and deeply distressing to all those who are familiar with the true approach to care of HammondCare.

“The worst of these claims, which HammondCare vigorously denies, is that we are an ‘anti-gay cult’ that discriminates against employees and people we care for,” Dr Judd said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth and it is outrageous that because we have won an important service contract on merit, that we are being targeted by these unsubstantiated claims.

“Our mission is to improve quality of life for people in need. That’s the sole basis on which we make care and employment decisions, including those relating to DBMAS.”

The story in the Sydney Star Observer makes a range of inaccurate claims, some of which could be defamatory:

1. HammondCare is not an “anti-gay Christian charity”. We do not discriminate in either employment or care provision and would always hope to have a positive relationship with the gay community.

2. HammondCare does not, and has never, required employees to “hide their sexual orientation at work” as is claimed in the Star Observer.

3. HammondCare does not have a “vocally anti-LGBTI” ethos but is inclusive in its approach to all communities.

4. The article refers to the status of NSW Health employee contracts. HammondCare carries no responsibility in this area - clearly the termination or transition of contracts is a matter for NSW Health.

5. The claim that HammondCare is like a “cult” is totally unfounded and defamatory. HammondCare is a properly administered, accountable and open organisation with an impeccable reputation.

6. Potential employees are not given a “spiel” about God or statements of faith in interviews.

7. The claim that HammondCare has handled interviews unfairly is absurd as no external interviews for DBMAS positions have been held.

8. HammondCare’s operation of DBMAS will not result in discrimination against any person or employee, as is claimed by the article. In fact our operation of DBMAS will have only good results for LGBTI people as they benefit from our leadership in the field of dementia care and the services they can receive through DBMAS.

9. HammondCare did not threaten to refuse Commonwealth funding in relation to consideration of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill. In its original submission, a clause highlighted that some providers might make that response. As this clause was being misinterpreted, HammondCare asked leave of the Senate hearing to remove the clause. The final submission is available on the Senate committee website.

10. HammondCare also made a statement to the Senate Committee hearing, outlining its non-discriminatory approach to employment and service provision as follows: “HammondCare does not discriminate in provision of care on any basis, whether race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. HammondCare is currently, and will continue to be, both an employer and a carer of people of all backgrounds, including the gay community.”

11. HammondCare provides care for people regardless of sexual orientation. We do not and have never “turned away elderly LGBTI people from our nursing homes.” We in fact provide care in line with the principals of dignity, respect and choice, that underpin the Australian Government’s national LGBTI ageing and aged care strategy.

12. Finally, the Sydney Star Observer article says that HammondCare “did not respond to requests for comments by deadline”. In fact the journalist was clearly informed that HammondCare would be in a better position to respond to questions on Thursday. There was no objection to this, no deadline provided or indication that the story would be published before then.