PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2018
SUBJECT/S: Royal Commission into the aged care sector, Scott Morrison’s cuts to aged care.
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR AGEING, SENATOR HELEN POLLEY: Good morning, as the Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing I want to make a few comments about the Royal Commission into the Aged Care Sector.
First of all my heart goes out to all the individuals and their families for what we’re going to see on Four Corners tonight. I know that all Australians hearts will go out to those families. As someone who has travelled the length and breadth of this country over the last 5 years hearing the stories of those living in our aged care homes, and chaired an inquiry into the aged care sector and time and time again heard the same thing. There’s not enough money, there’s not enough staff and that old people are feeling lonely, like they’ve been left there as the forgotten people.
But can I say from the outset that this Government has been dragged kicking and screaming when we’ve raised the issue in relation to what we believe is a national crisis in the aged care sector. We have seen first hand cut, after cut, after cut of funding. You can’t keep cutting funding and then expect the same level of care. WE know that the there’s a shortage in the workforce we know it’s a huge issue that’s going to confront this country over the next 5-10 years. We’ve seen the standard of training drop, we’ve seen the attack on TAFEs ad the impact on the aged care workforce. We have seen 3 incompetent Ministers for Aged Care over the last 4 years who have had no real interest in the aged care sector.
What we need is a Minister in Cabinet that can sit at the Cabinet table and fight for the funds that are so badly needed in this sector. I don’t want this to just be a negative interview. We also have to acknowledge that there is some wonderful work done by some outstanding staff on a daily basis.
Overall this Royal Commission is needed but what I don’t want to see is this government using it as a stalling tactic by not reinvesting in this sector and addressing the issues we know are currently there.
We’ve got 108,000 Australians waiting for care in their own homes and of those 108,000, there is 88,000 older people living with dementia. They need level 4 packages. The wait of 12-18 months is far too long. We need action and we need it now.
JOURNALIST:Senator Polley you’ve got the Prime Minister denying any cuts to funding for aged care.
POLLEY: The Prime Minister when he was Treasurer in his very first year cut almost $2 billion. It’s in his own Budget papers. How he can stand in front of the cameras yesterday and deny this is unbelievable. I think it actually goes to the core and lack of values that this government, and the lack of respect this government has for older Australians. We cannot afford to allow this to continue.
We need a Prime Minister who has the backbone to actually intervene now. A Royal Commission is fine – people need to be able to tell their stories. We need those to be heard. We had a roundtable with Bill Shorten and Julie Collins in Melbourne on Friday where we heard from the sector and from those who have had the experience on a day to day basis. We had a cross section of people representing consumers. They are telling us all the same thing – there is not enough money being invested. The cuts of almost $2 billion are crippling the sector. They want to see action from this government and they want to see it now.
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