Senate debates

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Committees

Government Response to Report

4:29 pm

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aged Care) Share this | Hansard source

In respect of the government's repsonse to the Community Affairs Reference Committee's report, Care and management of younger and older Australians living with dementia and behaviour and psychiatric symptoms of dementia (BPSD). I note that the government has taken more than 3½ years to respond to the 18 recommendations, with the report from this inquiry being tabled back on 26 March 2014. It's refreshing to finally get a report that the government has responded to, given that there are now more than 10 aged-care reports, reviews and strategies on the minister's table at this very moment. But, when you look at the government's response, none of the 18 recommendations are fully supported by those opposite—11 recommendations are noted, one recommendation is not supported at all and six recommendations are supported but only in principle. This is an interesting government response to this report.

In 2017 there were an estimated 365,100 people in Australia living with dementia. This is expected to increase to almost 900,000 by 2050. Labor, on the other hand, has been proactive on this important issue. On 21 November this year the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, spoke at the University of Sydney about the challenge of dementia. Labor knows that this is an urgent issue. A recent NATSEM report estimated that dementia costs Australia over $14 billion a year. The same report found that even a five per cent reduction in the number of people with dementia over the age of 65 could lead to savings of $120.4 billion in less than 40 years. One in three Australians born today will eventually be diagnosed with dementia. This year, for the first time, dementia is now the leading cause of death for Australian women. Within the next five years it will be the leading cause of death for all Australians. With statistics like these, we urge the government to do more when it comes to Australians living with dementia.

The government now has a responsibility to provide quality services for older Australians and this includes people living with dementia and their families and carers. This report is another example of the government abrogating its responsibility when it comes to the aged-care portfolio. Given this government cannot fully support one recommendation in this report, is it really an indication that those opposite again will not act when it comes to caring for those Australians living with dementia?

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