08 February 2022

*** E&OE***

If there were any doubt about the dismissive and supercilious attitude of the Morrison Government to the crisis in aged care, it was on full display in Question time today.

Dismissive of deaths from COVID.

Dismissive of the bungled vaccine rollout to aged-care residents and staff.

There have been 622 residents of aged-care facilities who have died from COVID this year, and we're only in early February.

As at Friday, almost 12,000 aged-care residents and workers were infected with COVID at more than 1,100 facilities.

Currently, tens of thousands of residents are still waiting for a booster, and up to a quarter of shifts are going unfilled.

And that's the experience in my electorate of Blair, where aged-care providers are facing issues with PPE and rapid antigen tests and COVID costs.

I'll give you one example, an aged-care provider in Rosewood, a country town of 3,000 people in rural Ipswich.

Cabanda Care is a wonderful community-run facility.

There are 71 residential aged-care beds, 52 independent-living units and 140 staff providing tremendous care in the facility and throughout the community.

They've been hit by rising COVID costs, and of course COVID among staff and residents, exacerbated by the failure of this government in relation to PPE and RATs.

The COVID costs are crippling them.

I do acknowledge Minister Hunt's office; we've reached out to him seeking urgent assistance for this small community-run facility, which of course has had to buy, at great cost, essential PPE and RATs to meet daily requirements.

I want to commend the chair of Cabanda Care, Lyall McEwin.

In his report to the AGM in October 2021, he talks about the problems of the vaccination program and criticises the Morrison Government, calling the vaccine program as it impacts Cabanda 'spasmodic'.

The centre has been able to secure funding for additional beds and has been hamstrung by the government's inadequate funding classification system.

Unlike other classification models in the health department and other government departments, this funding is based on local government.

This highlights the fact that we have large towns that are classified as No. 1, for rating purposes, for subsidies and supplements. Ipswich is rated No. 2 and Rosewood, because it's in Ipswich, is rated No. 2. It should be rated No. 4, like Gatton and Kingaroy, or No. 5, like Boonah, Laidley, Kalbar and Harrisville.

I urge the Government to look at the classification system that would help places like Cabanda, because Cabanda Care is the biggest employer in the country town of Rosewood in rural Ipswich.

I urge the Government to look at equity of classification systems, to make it fairer for organisations like Cabanda Care and to treat seriously the aged-care crisis we have.

It's not just Cabanda Care; it's other aged-care providers in my electorate that are doing it tough, and the Government's response in question time today shows tremendous arrogance.

They should look at themselves again.