The Repatriation General Hospital (‘The Repat’) at Daw Park, was one of three repatriation general hospitals established in South Australia by the Commonwealth Government around the time of World War II to cater for returned servicemen and women. The Repat was initially set up as an Army hospital before being administered by the Repatriation Commission (now the Department of Veterans’ Affairs).
In the mid-1990s, the Commonwealth Government divested itself of the Repat and it became a public hospital under State Government administration.
In June last year, the former State Government entered into a contract to sell the Repat site to the not-for-profit ACH Group. The ACH Group had been planning to redevelop the site for community and health services, housing, education and aged care facilities.
In November 2017 most SA Health public health services transitioned from the Repat into other purpose-built and state-of-the-art facilities, including the Jamie Larcombe Centre, the Flinders Medical Centre and the Noarlunga Hospital. As part of this process supporting infrastructure was decommissioned and either removed or relocated from the Repat.
In the lead up to the election, the then Liberal opposition announced that in government it would:
- Re-open operating theatres to reduce the elective surgery waiting list.
- Re-open the hydrotherapy pool to support community health.
- Use Ward 18 as an older persons mental health facility to provide accommodation for people who until recently would have been admitted to Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service.
- Build a new older persons mental health facility for people with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
The sale of the site to the ACH Group was not finalised prior to the March 2018 state election and the Minister for Health and Wellbeing terminated the contractual arrangements on 2 May 2018.
The hydrotherapy pool was reopened in May this year, enabling access to rehabilitation patients from the nearby ViTA centre and self-help community users, and from 1 July, the Repat pool was opened to patients from across the south and community groups with a focus on health and wellness.
Status of the site
The Repat is situated on 14 hectares of land approximately eight kilometres south of the CBD, and it is important that we maximise its use to the best of our ability.
There are a number of health services that are currently located at the Repat site that will continue to operate in a reactivated Repat health precinct, including:
- Care awaiting placement and Transitional Care beds in the ViTA facility (ACH and SALHN)
- Repat Radiology
- Orthotics and Prosthetics SA (OPSA)
- The Flinders University Sleep Studies program
- The hydrotherapy swimming pool
Three of the most functional and core assets on the site are linked to the delivery of the Government’s policies and these buildings have been identified as key opportunities for core services at the reactivated Repat. These buildings are primarily the:
- Previous Rehabilitation and 4th Generation Building on the northwestern corner of the site
- Previous Older Persons Mental Health ward – Ward 18
- Operating theatres and supporting infrastructure
There are several buildings across the site that are of heritage significance with the Chapel, Schools Patriotic Fund (SPF) Hall and Remembrance Garden of considerable significance to World War II Veterans and their families.
These will all be preserved.
There are some non-heritage buildings that have been identified as unlikely to be suitable for repurposing and re-use due to their poor functionality and condition.
The demolition of a number of these grouped ancillary buildings could create the opportunity to develop an open, central and landscaped space in the heart of the site to craft a cultural hub that connects the core repurposed buildings.
The State Government’s commitment to reactivate the Repat as a genuine health precinct presents an opportunity to utilise the capacity, the assets and land on the site for the provision of health and related services.