House debates

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Constituency Statements

Aged Care

4:39 pm

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is no secret that under the watch of the Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison governments the aged-care sector is now in crisis. The LNP government's ineptness over the last five years has caused vulnerable older Australians, and their families, friends and carers to suffer dreadful distress. The waiting list for home care has grown to 127,000 older Australians, with many waiting more than a year to receive the care they desperately need. As of September 2018, 69,086 older Australians were without any home care package at all. This is an absolute disgrace. This government should be ashamed. Instead of using social media or media releases to attack Labor, the government needs to focus on action, find solutions, pass legislation and implement a plan to continue to drive long-term reforms focusing on the human rights of elderly Australians.

Every single budget that the LNP government has delivered has included cuts to aged care. In his first budget the then Treasurer, now Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, cut $1.2 billion from aged care. These cuts saw funding go backwards for residents, staff cutbacks and insufficient funding to deliver quality services. We cannot expect adequate care if we're ripping the guts out of the sector. As of 30 June 2018 there were 323 people in North Queensland waiting to access home care packages. I have spoken with a resident in my community of Townsville whose mother passed away whilst waiting for her home care package. A few months after her mother passed away, she received the approval letter. Understandably, this was painful and frustrating not only for her daughter but for her family as well, who had been advocating for their mother for an extended period of time.

I understand that the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care has already admitted that the government will need to consider other interventions to reduce the waitlist time, but, with older Australians waiting years for care, this action needs to happen now. Time has run out. This week the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety commenced in Adelaide. Labor welcomed this royal commission when it was announced in October last year; however, we still want to see progress on the dozens of reviews sitting on government desks with recommendations regarding aged care that haven't yet been implemented. My community in Townsville has a large ageing population. I have spoken with services that are overrun with residents' requests for assistance in areas such as advocacy and legal advice. Under this government, these services are not receiving the adequate funding that they need and deserve. Older Australians deserve better and won't be fooled by this LNP government, who have done nothing but cut aged-care funding. Quality aged care is a human right for our elderly Australians.