AGEING IS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT AGED CARE

Malcolm Turnbull may have added aged care to Health Minister, Sussan Ley’s busy schedule, but he still has no one taking any leadership on the broader issues of ageing.

This was evident in the abhorrent treatment of ageing and aged care during Senate Estimates in October when Senator Nash indicated that “aged care” and “ageing” were interchangeable.

They are not, and I’m sure many older Australians would find this offensive.

I’m also sure that most people as they age do not consider themselves in need of “aged care” when dealing with age discrimination, housing issues, retirement income, and general health and lifestyle concerns.

Unlike Malcolm Turnbull, Labor understands that the ageing of our population is more than just an “aged care” issue.

The Liberal Government’s poor record for ignoring aged care workforce issues was also evident during Senate Estimates after Government officials were unable to provide clarity about when the aged care workforce strategy promised over 500 days ago will be produced.

For all his waffling, Malcolm Turnbull really is following in Tony Abbott’s footsteps by continuing to overlook the aged care workforce crisis.

Workforce development is one of the biggest challenges facing the sector and is not an optional policy area for the Liberal Government.

Our ageing population has put incredible pressure on the sector and we need to see the workforce triple by 2050.
In Tasmania alone we need an extra 5000 aged-care workers just to keep up with demand.

Aged care and services has been listed as one of the top 25 job creators of the future, but the sector is currently experiencing major a workforce and skills shortage.

This is because people are not attracted to a sector renowned for being physically demanding, poorly paid and having limited career paths.

Another issue surrounds the fact that this is an industry dominated by women and there is an undeniable presence of pay inequality - most certainly linked to the historical undervaluing of women’s work.

It is not good enough for Malcom Turnbull to simply talk about improving women’s superannuation and ignore pay inequity in an industry primarily comprising of women.

After two years of chaos, confusion and cuts, older Australians deserve a government, and Minister committed to the broad ranging ageing issues.