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Japara CEO under the spotlight: royal commission Perth

One hundred assaults over four-and-a-half years is not evidence of systemic issues among staff, according to aged care provider Japara’s chief executive, Mark Sudholz.

Sudholz appeared uncomfortable at the royal commission Perth hearing on Tuesday, and by the end of his testimony, visibly upset. He was taken to task regarding the incidents reported during the previous day concerning the assault of Noleen Hausler’s father Clarence at a Japara facility in 2015.

He and council assisting Peter Rozen went back and forth over Japara’s definition of rough handling. They also couldn’t agree on a definition of the word ‘vexatious’, which Sudholz used to describe Hausler.

In an email to his board, Sudholz wrote: “Hi all, you will be pleased to hear that we have achieved 100 per cent occupancy at Mitcham ACF for the first time ever despite the ongoing complaints and vexatious approach by Noleen Hausler and her activist group.”

He was also asked about an email in which he seemed to accuse Hasuler of being motivated by financial gain in her complaints.

“This has been about financial gain to her and the action she has taken is for the purpose of putting us under pressure and forcing a settlement, which we will not do,” read another email, this time to a senior employee.

Most surprisingly were his statements regarding the the prevalence of assault across Japara’s 49 facilities.

Rozen quizzed Sudholz over the 298 allegations of assaults and the process of investigations used by Japara.

Sudholz replied that they were “alleged” assaults and the number of actual assaults were, in his words “much less than that”.

“The number of actual assaults – actual assaults, not alleged or suspected, but actual assaults – is much much less than that. And the number at the moment that I understand is under 100.

“And under that basis, it isn’t 298 assaults that Japara has had over four-and-a-half years. It is a figure much less than that,” he said.

As his testimony ended, he was at pains to apologise to Hausler and teared up as he did so.

The commission’s Perth hearing continues until 28 June.

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