House of Assembly: Thursday, March 23, 2023


Ukraine Invasion

Ms CLANCY (Elder) (15:14): Before I get into what I had planned on speaking about today, I want to thank the Minister for Health and Wellbeing for his tireless work for the people of South Australia. He has already done so much, and if those opposite had won all we would have are the plans drawn up for a $662 million basketball stadium, if that—not extra beds, not extra ambos, not extra nurses, not extra doctors, just plans for a stadium. I am proud to have the member for Kaurna as our Minister for Health and Wellbeing who is actually delivering more beds, more ambos, more nurses and more doctors.

I found the display today from those opposite absolutely appalling, particularly given the former member for Elder and her volunteers repeatedly said at pre-poll that our health system was fine, so given they did not think it was a problem, they certainly did not have a plan, just like they do not have a plan now. At one stage, a Liberal Party volunteer at pre-poll said to an ambulance officer, who was choosing to hand out on his day off, that the problem could not be that bad if he was there—on his day off. I would have thought that had demonstrated the complete opposite.

I now take the opportunity to reflect on the ongoing trauma, death and disposition caused by armed conflicts across the globe. With the recent recognition of the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, my mind is drawn to the struggle of the Ukrainian people, particularly the 400 Ukrainians who now call South Australia home as a direct result of the invasion.

Russia's invasion has resulted in widespread destruction, displacement and loss of life. Putin's unjustifiable actions have drawn the condemnation of the global community. The people of Ukraine are not alone in their struggle for sovereignty and peace. Like all armed conflicts across the globe, this invasion is a reality that affects not only those directly involved in the conflict but also their families and communities.

The horrors of war leave deep scars that can last a lifetime. War is about power and greed. It is about the interests of capital needlessly sacrificing, displacing and dispossessing ordinary working people. War is a gross misuse of the power possessed by those with a monopoly on violence, creating long-lasting trauma that will affect generations to come. War is about the failure of diplomacy, compassion and understanding, showing us the darkest side of humanity.

We all know the trauma of war is not limited to physical injuries. The mental health impact on defence personnel, nurses and everyone else involved in conflict simply cannot be overstated. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects those who have witnessed and experienced the brutality of war. The flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety that come with PTSD can be debilitating and lead to other mental health challenges.

Trauma impacts not only those who are directly involved in the conflict but their families and communities too. Families of those who have lost loved ones or seen them return injured must deal with the emotional trauma of loss and suffering. Communities that have experienced war have to deal with the aftermath, including rebuilding homes and infrastructure, and dealing with the psychological scars left behind, and that pain of those directly affected can be felt by the generations that follow.

I have been told of unimaginable war crimes by Russian soldiers, crimes so disturbing they will echo through generations of human rights violations. The invasion has forced thousands of families to flee their homes, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs. For children, the experience of war and displacement can be particularly traumatic. Many have witnessed violence and destruction firsthand, lost loved ones and been separated from friends and family. The situation for many children remains uncertain and challenging. The trauma of their experiences can have long-lasting effects on their mental health and wellbeing.

These grave concerns are why we must stand with Ukraine. Some may ask why South Australia would pick sides for a conflict raging on the other side of the world. The answer is simply that neutrality, to sit on the fence, only serves to aid the oppressor. In the same way bystanders can stand up to stop the schoolyard bully, internationally we all play a role to stand up to oppressive regimes. It would be remiss of this place to be a bystander to the injustice we see—and we will not be. Our government has offered support to our new Ukrainians and continue to do so:

support through waiving school fees and connecting adults with job providers;

support through funding to the Association of Ukrainians in South Australia Inc. to employ a coordinator to support the community;

$1.8 million worth of medical supplies;

access to public housing;

financial counselling; and

emergency financial assistance.

I was so proud to stand with my parliamentary colleagues in the South Australian Ukrainian community on the anniversary of this invasion. I was proud to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Slava Ukraini.