Thank you Deputy Speaker,
I rise to support the motion by the Honorable Member for Forrest.
In particular I call attention to the University of Technology Sydney Ageing Research Collaborative report, which strikes home at issues raised with me by leadership at many Aged Care facilities in Mallee.
These issues largely centre around care minute requirements, and the lack of Registered Nurses to meet expedited requirements legislated by the Labor Government.
The report states that meeting the incoming mandated standards will require an additional 6,922 full-time registered nurses in Australia by 1 July 2023.
Meanwhile at Senate Estimates the Department of Health said that an additional 10,000 to 14,000 nurses will be required to fulfill the care requirements due to come into effect in October 2023.
Less than 5% of the surveyed homes currently have the required direct care workforce needed to fulfil the requirements that will be placed on them.
It’s astounding, 95% of homes will need to find more staff, and as we know the workforce is already thin. It is an impossible situation.
These figures highlight a serious issue that is only going to get worse over time.
Mallee Aged Care residential facilities have certainly made it loud and clear to me.
Facilities such as Dimboola’s Allambi Elderly People’s Home, which has sadly already closed its care facility.
Or Minyip’s Dunmunkle Lodge and Donald’s Johnson-Goodwin Memorial Homes, who have both communicated the issues they are having.
And facilities such as Maryborough’s Havilah Hostel – another community institution of over 160 beds that is also facing troubled waters.
Two out of three residential facilities around Australia are unviable. And the closer we get to the deadlines the Federal Government has determined the more pressure will be applied.
I have been working closely with Mallee Aged Care facilities and their communities, listening to their concerns and writing to the Ministers concerned, with little to no understanding shown.
In Dimboola before the closure of Allambi, I faced an impromptu community meeting and delivered their petition to the Prime Minister from the many concerned residents of that town.
I met with the Chief Executive of Dunmunkle Lodge Peter Ballagh and board member Andrew Clark and talked through their situation – listening to their proposals as to how they could make their facility remain viable and sustainable.
And recently I took Shadow Minister for Health Senator Anne Ruston to Maryborough where we toured Havilah Hostel and met with the board.
I have been in contact with Federal Minister for Aged Care Annika Wells regarding Mallee Aged Care facilities and would welcome her to visit them with me to see first hand the reality of their situations.
So far the Government has blatantly ignored concerns from both the Coalition and the community that their expedited timeframe could force aged care homes to close because they just can’t access staff.
This will see either residents sent to overburdened hospitals, or older Australians from rural and regional Australia forced to travel away from their own towns to find a residential facility elsewhere. Separating them from their families at the final years of their life.
This is simply not Australian.
We want and expect our older Australians to be well-supported and cared for in their own community.
That is why, in Government, the Coalition called the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to ensure our oldest and most vulnerable Australians receive care that supports and respects their dignity, and recognises the important contribution they have made to society.
The final report of the Royal Commission made 148 recommendations, the product of compassionate scrutiny of Australia’s aged care system.
In response to the Royal Commission, the Coalition committed $19.1 billion to a five-year plan to improve aged care, with new home care packages, respite services, training places, retention bonuses and infrastructure upgrades.
We listened to the experiences of the Australians who gave evidence to the Royal Commission and took decisive action to implement recommendations, with reforms to deliver vital services, improved quality, care and viability in aged care.
We know that rural and regional communities face unique and serious challenges, which is why we sought to amend the Government’s aged care legislation to consider these challenges. Once again however, we see that Labor cannot consider anything but a ‘one size fits all’ approach, when it clearly doesn’t.
It was extraordinarily disappointing to see the Government oppose this amendment.
Legislation needs to be looked at through a regional lens, and I urge the government to reconsider.