A CENTURY of history at the Stockton Centre has drawn to a close with the buildings emptied - in the words of Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp - of "everything that wasn't nailed down".
With Stockton and Kanangra at Morisset both empty, and with only five people still living at Tomaree Lodge, the era of large residential centres for people living with disability in the Hunter is now effectively over.
Hundreds of residents of the three centres are now living in group homes operated by non-government not-for-profit groups. Concerns are still being raised about the new system of "support" rather than "nursing-based care", but the NSW government insists that bringing the residents "into the community" is an unarguable success.
Confirmation of the buildings being emptied appeared on the website of Newcastle auctioneer Ray Norman, who was given the job of selling whatever was left behind after the government took what it wanted.
Normans Auctions advertised two "Hospital Site Clearance" online auctions: one of 719 lots, the other of 246 lots. Both closed on Monday, November 30.
The successful bids were still on display yesterday afternoon, indicating the auctions raised more than $50,000.
Mr Norman said yesterday that he had originally gone to Stockton to value artworks from the various buildings.
"I was left with the leftovers, but we sold 97 per cent of the lots, so I think it was a good result," Mr Norman said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Justice said the "vast majority of equipment" from Stockton had gone to Corrective Services Industries.
Families of some former residents asked why furniture did not go with the residents to their group homes, but the spokesperson said a number of non-government agencies had been offered equipment, but the offers were declined. The spokesperson said surplus equipment from Morisset was part of the same "asset disposal process".
Asked about the future of the three sites, the spokesperson said no decision had been about Stockton.
They said Morisset was owned by the Department of Health.
As for Tomaree, the spokesperson said the government had "previously committed that the site will be available in the future for public use", but that no planning for its future would be undertaken until the final five residents were moved to the group home being built for them.
Newcastle Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp said he was increasingly concerned about the government's plans for the Stockton site. It had "totally ignored" his "very specific" parliamentary questions about the subject.
"They also conveniently ignored to say that a process was under way to sell everything that wasn't nailed down," Mr Crakanthorp said.
"The closures of the three centres were shrouded in secrecy from the start, and clearly, nothing has changed."
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