Tuesday 8 November 2016
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Eskleigh Foundation - Tasmanian Art Award Exhibition


Mr FINCH (Rosevears)  Mr President, I am going to talk about a happy combination - an historic former homestead which is home to more than 40 residents with a disability, and the annual Tasmanian Art Award exhibition.  It is in the honourable member for Apsley's electorate.  I know she will forgive me for making an incursion into her area.

The Eskleigh Foundation provides a haven where residents can be cared for and supported in comfortable and cheerful surroundings.  It is a magnificent former homestead, and an ideal place for an art exhibition.  When you go up north, have a look at Eskleigh.  You will be gobsmacked by the architecture and interior of the building.  The visual beauty of the place is wonderful.  Over the past 25 years, about 37 000 people have beaten a steady path to Eskleigh for this annual art exhibition.  Eskleigh has been operated by the Eskleigh Foundation as a home since 1947.  It is wonderful for Mr Bill Gibson to be in the audience.  His family gave Eskleigh and the property to the community of Tasmania to be used in this way.  It was a wonderful gesture by the Gibson family.

The foundation itself spends more than $7.8 million annually on programs for people with a disability.  They operate five group homes around the state, through its community and community access programs.  The foundation looks forward to working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme but there are some problems ahead.

Eskleigh Home at Perth accommodates 40 residents with disabilities, but they cannot comply with the accommodation rules and it is regarded as legacy stock housing.  It is referred to as this because it exceeds the NDIS supported disability accommodation limit of five persons per dwelling.  The current clients who are under 65 years of age and enter the NDIS are entitled to remain at Eskleigh but new participants will not be referred to Eskleigh in the future.  This may cause a reduction in numbers and subsequently make Eskleigh financially unviable.  There are also other problems for Eskleigh under the NDIS including the future of their six‑bed group home Esk Banks which is on the property.  Let us hope as the NDIS is rolled out there will be sufficient flexibility to overcome these and other discrepancies.

I was honoured last Friday evening to open Eskleigh Foundation's annual Tasmanian Art Award .  The aims of the Tasmanian Art Award committee, led by Lionel Morrell, are to promote and to benefit Eskleigh, by raising funds and also public interest and appreciation of the work of Eskleigh in the community, hence this speech I am presenting this morning.

It is a great opportunity for Tasmanian artists to be bolder, more visionary, to have a go, to have an opportunity on the Tasmanian stage to present their work.  A number of categories attract prizes each year and I was pleased to see two prizes go to artists from my electorate of Rosevears.  Rachel Howell was the winner of the $8000 Tasmanian Art Award for her pastel entry titled The Hills of Queenstown.  I know the member for Murchison is probably thinking, 'that might be something I would like to have a look at and perhaps purchase'.  Unfortunately it is the acquisitive prize and it will remain at Eskleigh.  If you get a chance to have a look at The Hills of Queenstown - and I could not make sense of it until Lionel Morrell explained it - it is about a fire at Queenstown.  It looks quite a different colour but he said the more you look at the painting, and once you understand it is a fire, it draws your vision in.  There is no doubt why it was awarded the main prize of $8000.

Also from my electorate was the Excellence in Watercolour winner, Graeme Whittle, who has a huge following in my community, with his Duck Reach Unfolding.  Carlene Bullock received a special presentation. 
There is no doubt the annual Eskleigh Art Awards make a significant contribution to Tasmania's image as an art state.

In closing, I pay tribute to the board of Eskleigh, past and present, because of the contribution they make through being givers to the community, in making sure Eskleigh is able to rise to the challenges of the past, but also with the future that includes the NDIS, and I wish them well.