House debates

Monday, 20 March 2023

Private Members' Business

Aged Care

12:06 pm

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I'd like to thank the member for Forrest for tabling this motion. As the member for Gilmore, I am committed to improving the quality of aged care for our communities, getting nurses back into nursing homes and putting our most vulnerable people first. I am proud of the incredible work the Albanese government has done to prioritise aged care in this country. I find it absolutely shameful that the former Liberal government allowed aged care to deteriorate to the neglectful state it was in when we took over government. Even so, the Liberals continue to argue against getting more registered nurses into aged-care homes. They continue to argue against treating older Australians with greater dignity. They are standing in the way of increased care access and improved standards. They are standing in the way of putting 'care' in aged care. After 10 years of neglect, they're still trying to delay critical and necessary reform. It is as if they did not do enough damage to aged care in government; now they're trying their best from opposition—disgraceful. Unlike the Liberals, the Albanese Labor government recognises and, most importantly, respects the contribution older Australians have made to this country. We truly believe in our hearts that they deserve dignity and respect. These are not just hollow words for hollow reasons; it's action because that is what is needed.

I want to tell you a story about Connie from Worrigee. Connie came to me late last year asking for help. Connie needed a new mobility scooter to get around and compression stockings for her legs. She needed domestic support services for the house she shares with her husband. It sounds pretty simple, really. But she was having trouble getting that simple support. I quickly looked into these issues, and I'm delighted that they were soon resolved. Now, Connie can move around more freely with her new scooter, and her home is getting the cleaning services they need. Simple. Connie is just one example of the hundreds of people I have helped to regain their dignity with small changes. I love supporting our community and advocating for those who need it, and I'll always make that a priority.

But it shouldn't have come to this. It shouldn't take going to your local member to get these issues solved. That is why the government is working hard to create an aged-care system which is efficient and fair, an aged care system that puts emphasis back on care. Fixing the workforce shortage isn't going to be easy, but we are using every tool in our kit to achieve it. In the October budget, we delivered $473 million to help healthcare providers get 24/7 registered nurses for facilities. We are delivering a 15 per cent pay rise for aged-care workers so that we can attract and retain more workers to this critical industry. At the same time, we have introduced 180,000 fee-free TAFE places in workforce shortage areas so we can train and build the workforce we need, now and into the future. While we work hard to rebuild the local workforce, we've helped providers meet these new requirements by extending the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme, among other schemes, to help fill those gaps in regional and rural areas, like the New South Wales South Coast. That is already making a difference to local aged-care providers. These are the types of things a Labor government achieves, and all of that in less than one year.

That's in stark contrast to the Liberals' record. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety described the former government's approach to aged care as 'the minimum commitment it could get away with'. That's the Liberals' record in one sentence. They will do the minimum they can get away with. And what did that get us? The other simple and accurate describer from the Royal Commission, the title of its report: neglect. While the Albanese government is working hard to put nurses back into aged care, the coalition has continued business as usual: fear mongering and spreading misinformation. The vicious rumours that aged-care homes will be shut down because can't get registered nurses are blatantly wrong and dangerous. They should be ashamed to be spreading such lies in order to continue their neglect of local people.

We are committed to improving the quality of aged care in Australia. We are taking action to address the workforce crisis, putting nurses back into nursing homes, increasing funding for training and education, and providing financial support for aged-care providers. We will continue doing absolutely everything we can to ensure that every Australian can age with dignity, respect and care.


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