Who will care for older Australians?

Joint media release with the Hon. Shayne Neumann, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Shadow Minister for Ageing, Member for Blair.

Older Australians will suffer if the Abbott Government continues to ignore the workforce crisis in aged care.


Last night Tony Abbott’s Assistant Minister for Social Services confirmed he has no plan to ensure Australia’s aged care workforce can meet the demands of a rapidly ageing population.

A lack of vision was abundantly clear in Senate Estimates last night as Senator Fifield danced around tough questions with “fluffy” responses, in what has been described as the “Fifield Fluffle”.

Meantime, a coherent workforce strategy promised by the Abbott Government over ten months ago is nowhere in sight.

Senator Fifield confirmed he had not met with the relevant unions and had no intention of meeting with them, which may explain why the strategy is nowhere to be seen.

The Abbott Government has a shameful record of mishandling aged care workforce issues, following the axing of the $1.2 billion Aged Care Workforce Supplement in September 2013, followed up with a $40 million cut to the Aged Care Workforce Development Fund without strategic backing in the 2015 Budget.

“It’s time for the Abbott Government to start showing some leadership on aged care and take the future of our ageing population seriously,” Mr Neumann said.

“The Government’s blatant disregard for the value the aged care sector brings to the economy will have detrimental effects on the quality of service provision for older Australians.

“Tony Abbott must work with the aged care sector, including the unions, to develop an overarching strategy for the aged care workforce of the future,” Mr Neumann said.

Senator Polley said the sector is ready and willing to work with the Abbott Government.

“Senator Fifield cannot “fluffle” around the unions and the sector anymore,” Senator Polley said.

“Senator Fifield needs to meet with all of the stakeholders so he can develop an accurate understanding of the issues they face and to ensure a well-informed strategy is produced.

“The Government needs to take the lead in developing an overarching approach to tackling what is becoming a crisis or older Australians will be the ones to suffer.”

The 2010 Intergenerational Report warned that a 300 per cent increase in workers was needed to meet the demands by 2050, while the aged care sector has reported that an additional 55,770 aged care workers are needed in the next 15 years.

Labor believes Australia’s aged care sector should be world-class.

It clear that there is only one job Tony Abbott is prepared to fight for.