Australia’s aged care system is broken.
It was broken prior to this pandemic, but it’s clear it’s in an even worse state now.
Almost 700 aged care residents have died due to COVID-19.
In recent months we’ve heard horrific stories about neglect in aged care including patients with open wounds who have been found with ants crawling over them.
In September there were revelations that up to 50,000 Australians living in aged care facilities are being abused each year.
The Morrison Government has known about this but hasn’t taken any action.
As a result, it came as no surprise that the Aged Care Royal Commission confirmed that the Government’s preparation for the coronavirus pandemic was “insufficient”.
So you can imagine my surprise when I saw Nell McGill’s letter to the editor in Friday’s Newcastle Herald bragging about the Morrison Government’s performance in aged care.
Ms McGill was the Liberal candidate for the seat of Shortland at last year’s election and it looks like she’s keeping up to date with her party’s spin and propaganda.
I’d prefer to stick to the facts.
In October 2019 the Aged Care Royal Commission Interim Report titled ‘Neglect’ was tabled in Parliament.
The report described the waitlist for home care as ‘neglect’ and called for urgent action.
In December 2019 there were over 104,000 older Australians waiting for care.
Almost a year on, that number is now 102,000.
That’s hardly an achievement worth celebrating.
In their Budget for 2020-2021, the Government said they were going to fund 23,000 packages.
This is clearly not enough.
In September it was confirmed that in the last three years more than 30,000 older Australians have died waiting for care that they had already been approved for.
It had previously been revealed more than 30,000 went into aged care homes prematurely in just two years while waiting for home care.
So you’ll forgive me if I don’t share Ms McGill’s enthusiasm about the Government’s funding for home care packages.
Our aged care system has experienced years of neglect, and as a result vulnerable and frail older Australians have been left behind.
Almost 700 Australians aged care residents have died due to COVID-19 and that is partly as a result of the Government not having a plan for aged care.
Labor has a plan to get aged care in our country back on track.
Seven years of neglect under the Coalition is far too long.
This opinion piece was first published in the NEWCASTLE HERALD on Wednesday, 4 November 2020.