THE HON SHAYNE NEUMANN MP
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Shadow Minister for Ageing
Federal Member for Blair
SENATOR HELEN POLLEY
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aged Care
Labor Senator for Tasmania
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
MITCH FIFIELD HAS NO PLANS TO REPLACE AXED DEMENTIA SUPPLEMENT
The Abbott Government has no plans in place to replace an axed dementia supplement leaving aged care providers and people with dementia completely in the dark.
On 26 June the Government abandoned people with dementia when the Assistant Minster for Social Services, Mitch Fifield, suddenly announced the cessation of the Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement.
Today in Question Time, the Minister failed to justify this cruel axing and preferred to shift the blame and avoid responsibility:
“This was not a situation of my creation. This was a situation I inherited.”
Senator Mitch Fifield, Senate Question Time, 10 July 2014
Shadow Minister for Ageing, Shayne Neumann, said that the Minister was refusing to own up to his decision.
“Today we saw a Minister out of his depth who has no plans for providing care and support for people with dementia,” Mr Neumann said.
“Minister Fifield did not consult the Aged Care Sector Committee on this decision, he did not consult the wider sector on this decision and this afternoon he did not answer questions from Senator Polley on this decision.”
Mr Neumann said that the Minister’s continued intransigence and inaction on this matter was inexcusable.
“Every single person with an interest in this supplement knew that it needed to be addressed. The Minister knew that oversubscription was an issue from late last year, but he choose not to act until late June this year.”
Senator Polley said that the Senator’s hesitancy to explain the rationale for his decision and map out a plan for the future was infuriating the aged care sector.
“Providers and the organisations that represent their interests are up in arms. They want certainty, they want a plan and they want a Minister who takes dementia seriously. During Question Time today the Minister had an opportunity to provide some reassurance but instead he dodged and ducked my line of questioning.
“We have had the head of Leading Age Service Australia, Patrick Reid, saying publicly that Minister Fifield’s decision represents a Government ‘turning its back on Australia’s most vulnerable people’.
“We have had the CEO of Aged Care and Community Services, Dr John Kelly, labelling the move to axe this supplement a ‘travesty’. It is time the Minister addressed these serious concerns.”
Last Thursday over 40 aged care providers met in Melbourne to air their anger over the decision to axe the supplement and Senator Polley noted that they will not quit without a fight.
“This supplement was a vital component of how many providers ran their operations. They have acquired extra specialist staff, planned for new buildings and facilities, and invested in other support resources because of the very existence of this supplement; they were willing and able to invest.
“Now that the rug has been pulled out from under them this investment has been put at risk. Dementia is a chronic disease and the third leading cause of death in Australia - it deserves urgent attention from this Government.
“It is time for the Abbott Government to take responsibility for these cruel cuts and the devastating impacts on some of our most vulnerable people.
“It is a dream for extremist fiscal hawks in the Liberal Party, it is a nightmare for those with dementia and the people charged with caring for them.”
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