CONSTITUENCY SPEECH – AGED CARE FAILS
FEDERATION CHAMBER OF HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, 16 JUNE 2021
I rise to speak on behalf of old and frail constituents in my electorate of Blair who are not getting the help they need from this Government.
They've been ignored, neglected and abandoned.
* I have been trying to assist a 96-year-old hard-of-hearing, legally-blind widow in my electorate.
Her son and other family members provide some assistance, but she is a strong-willed and independent woman who's determined to live at home.
She has been getting some minor help through the old Commonwealth Home Support Program following a referral from the regional assessment service, or RAS, but she needs far more than someone helping her shower; she needs help to live her life.
Before she can receive a home-care package she needs a more complex assessment from the Aged Care Assessment Team, or ACAT.
However, the RAS has told the family it couldn't even refer her for an ACAT assessment. Why?
Because 'there is no money for an aged-care package' - no money to support a blind 96-year-old woman so she can age with dignity in her home.
Her son tells me his mother will fade away if no-one can assist or cut through the red tape.
I spoke to an out-of-town RAS assessor at one of my recent mobile offices at a country show in Blair.
She admitted to me the system is abysmal, with some people waiting for up to three years for a package and some people never receiving their care.
* Keith was 91 years old, bedridden, legally blind and deaf when he died in December 2020.
In 2019 he was allocated a level 2 home-care package while waiting for a level 3.
He received this last year, by which time he was eligible for a level 4 package.
He died before he could receive the aged care he needed and for which he was eligible.
His 62-year-old son Francis was his full-time carer, living off his superannuation before qualifying for a carer's payment.
Since his father passed, Francis is now unemployed and living on JobSeeker. There was no dignity for Keith in life and there is no dignity for his son and carer, Francis, following his dad's death.
Then there is Daphne, a 92-year-old stroke survivor and widow.
She calls my office regularly. She has been languishing on a level 2 package for two years while she waits for a level 3 package.
Several care providers and agencies do their best to help, but it's inadequate for Daphne and for the community organisations forced to use their funds to top up services for neglected older Australians who are simply waiting for home-care packages.
The system is failing. It's abysmal, cruel and unfair to frail older citizens.
The response from the Morrison Government was inadequate, and they squandered an opportunity in relation to the Aged Care Royal Commission.
We've got community organisations shuffling funds from various buckets while older residents wait for more substantive care that should be given to them now.
It's clear this is a failed wreck of a Government with no plan, no care and no responsibility for older Australians.
It will be up to a Labor government to correct this problem.
*please note some constituents’ details have been intentionally omitted from this transcript to protect their security.