Local Media

OP - ED: URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON AGED CARE

April 19, 2021

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report and its 148 recommendations make it absolutely clear – Australia’s aged care system is in crisis.

You only need to read the 12-page foreword of Neglect – the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to get a sense of the rage, the heartbreak and the failure of our aged care system.

It is difficult reading: the maggots in open wounds; patients left to lie in their own waste because of rationing of incontinence pads; or the malnourishment of at least half of all aged care residents.

This is not something we can ignore any longer.

According to the latest population trends, 38 per cent of Australian men and 55 per cent of Australian women will end up in permanent residential aged care. The average length of stay is two to three years.

Of those 240,000 Australians currently in residential aged care – including more than 6000 younger Australians with disabilities – some are our own loved ones.

This large-scale scandal is undertaken by our taxes.
 
The Australian Government provides more than 80 per cent of the funding for aged care – and is 100 per cent responsible for the quality and safeguards of the system.
 
If our government controls aged care’s purse strings and regulations, can’t we give older Australians the care and support they deserve?

We could ask the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He was the Treasurer when the Government cut aged care funding by $1.7 billion – ensuring services were rationed.

This Government has received 21 major reports into aged care in their eight years in office. They knew the problems, and still they cut funding.

Many people in aged care – especially the dedicated but undervalued staff – are doing fantastic work. But the Interim Report found that good providers and workers were “succeeding despite the aged care system” not because of it.
 
The families and carers of the 1.3 million Australians who use aged care knew how cruel and harmful the system was before the Royal Commission took its first submission – but the Government didn’t listen.

Reading the final recommendations of the Royal Commission, I am struck by how they reflect many of the policies Labor has taken to the past few elections.

Policies that deal with respite, supporting carers, integration of allied health and palliative care.

Policies that address dementia – our understanding of it, its management, treatment and one day to find a cure.

Policies that address significant workforce issues: qualifications and training, better pay and conditions; a more appropriate mix of trained professionals.

More than this, Labor alone understands the impact of an ageing population and has a proven history in addressing the social and economic impact on the nation.

This includes workforce issues, discrimination, addressing health and lifestyle issues so that we can all live well as we age.

This Government has demonstrated a consistent attitude towards aged care and ageing issues. They see it as an economic burden and a financial problem they wish they could avoid.

Labor has consistently prioritised ageing issues.

We are on the side of older people, their families, carers and those who work with them.

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST