Thursday, 23 August 2018
Last Friday saw the government finally release the home care waitlist data. This data was more than two months delayed by the minister and his office. There is no doubt that the government has been trying to remove people from this list, but, despite its efforts, there are still 108,000 Australians waiting for home care today. Of those, 88,000 are waiting for high care—that is, level 3 and 4 packages. They have been assessed as needing these and they have been approved for these, but they are still waiting for packages to be allocated to them.
We have been calling on the government to deal with this issue for some time. Of those people on the waiting list, 53,000 have no home care package at all and 26,000 have no support at home whatsoever—no Commonwealth Home Support Program, no home care, even a lower package, absolutely zero. So 26,000 Australians who have been assessed as eligible for a home care package are today at home without any care at all. While this government is thinking more about itself and who is going to be Prime Minister, we've got older Australians, their families and their loved ones waiting for home care packages in every electorate right around the country. We've heard some pretty harrowing stories in recent weeks from constituencies all over the country. Justine Elliot, the member for Richmond, has been in this place talking about one of her constituents, who we are very concerned about—a 99-year-old who is blind. She has been waiting on the home care list and has been told she will have to continue to wait for months. This is absolutely not good enough.
The government took some money out of residential care in the budget and said that it would fund 14,000 new home care packages. My question to the minister, whoever that might be, and to the Prime Minister, whoever that might be at the end of today, is: what are you doing about this? Where are those 14,000 home care packages? You should be able to release some of them immediately to try and get care for people who are languishing on this list, desperately in need of them. What do you think is happening to those people and their families as they continue to wait? They're ending up in residential care or emergency departments, which is a worse outcome for them and their families and costs the community more. It is simply not good enough for the government to say that its 14,000 from the budget—that's only 3½ thousand home care packages a year over the forward estimates—is good enough when the list grew by 4,000 older Australians in just the last quarter.