Radio interview ABC Turnbull Government's lack of committment to aged care

SUBJECTS: Aged Care and Turnbull Government’s lack of commitment to Aged Care

LEON COMPTON: Good morning Senator Polley, thank you for calling in today.    

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE LEADER (TASMANIA), SENATOR HELEN POLLEY: Good morning Leon, thank you for your interest regarding the aged care sector. We are about to receive an aged care report looking into the aged care workforce going forward, obviously I can’t speak directly to that report but I can talk to you about the need to bring more people into the sector as you alluded to earlier in the program. But in terms of how we address some of the issues in the sector around the workforce we need to ensure that aged care is part of the curriculum. So we encourage more nurses to work in the industry. We need aged care taught to all aged care professionals so they have far more awareness surrounding older Australians.      

COMPTON: George and Ted, a couple of residents we spoke to earlier said that you need specific people to work in the sector. For example it takes a tough kind of person to work with people with dementia every day.     

POLLEY: There are great people already working in aged care but we need to do more when training is concerned so people receive the best care. You need a career path opportunity within the workforce, especially for carers on the floor and for attracting more nurses.   

COMPTON: Senator Polley, the numbers. We have talked about the need for another 5,000 workers in Tasmania by 2025. 7 years away. Is this in line with the report when it comes to the needs of our population in Tasmania?

POLLEY: Absolutely, that has been very evident in all the evidence that was given to us. Across the country there needs to be a much greater focus on this. Although the federal government is walking away from their responsibility, they are saying that the improvements in the retention of staff is reliant on the sector and what they have to do to get the amount of people necessary to come and work. They are missing the point here. What I am saying is that the is a moral and an ethical obligation from the major funder of this sector for the federal government to play a role. The government needs to work with the sector, the community, unions and The Opposition. We have to address this, it is not going to go away.

COMPTON: Demographically, Australia wide thousands of people, if not millions of people are going to be moving into their 70’s and 80’s in the next couple of decades. Bernard Salt said at an aged care convention that was on in Hobart last year said maybe we have to raise taxes to help fund the workforce and for what is required in the sector. Is that something we need to consider?

POLLEY: We have to consider all options. Do we ask people who can afford to pay, pay more? Do we increase taxes? As an Opposition we are looking at the policy and developing our policy. But we also need to ensure that the best people are coming to work in the sector. And to ensure that they are highly skilled and trained. And that they are renumerated at a fair pay rate.

COMPTON: Helen Polley good to speak with you this morning.

POLLEY: Thanks Leon