House debates

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Aged Care

2:34 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is for the Prime Minister. More than 50 COVID-19 cases have been linked to the Doutta Galla aged-care centre in Yarraville in my electorate. Sandra, whose father Wilhelm was a resident who died in the outbreak, responded to the Prime Minister's claim of a plan by asking, 'What was this plan? If there was a plan, it was not implemented properly, or maybe it was the wrong plan.' Why wasn't there a plan to keep Sandra's father and others like him safe from COVID-19?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Again, we acknowledge the very significant and severe impacts at, in this case, Doutta Galla Yarraville Village. The village notified the Department of Health of one staff member having contracted COVID on 31 July of this year. The Department of Health organised tailored support as soon as this notification occurred. The Department of Health also immediately organised the testing of all residents and staff at the Doutta Galla Yarraville Village, and this was conducted on 1 August. The clinical first responder nurse attended on 4 August 2020. The Australian government provided surge staff from 6 August and continues to do so. This is in addition to the assistance of the Victorian DHHS through the Western Health service, who have been critical supports for those health services into these aged-care facilities as part of our partnership arrangement with the Victorian government. The service has also been provided with specialist infection control support through the deployment of hazmat teams. The Australian government has also ensured that families remain engaged and has arranged for the Older Persons Advocacy Network to provide support to families and residents throughout the outbreak.

However, approved providers of residential aged-care facilities, like Doutta Galla aged care, have a responsibility to residents and their families to ensure that quality care continues to be provided. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is working to actively ensure that providers' obligations are met and that all impacted aged-care services in Victoria, including at Doutta Galla Yarraville Village, are receiving assistance from the government, including a case manager, PPE, testing support and workforce support.

Even though I'm sure those facts would be welcome, I know they will not console those who have lost loved ones and been impacted by these terrible events, and that's why the government have offered our condolences and our apologies where these instances have occurred. But I stress again that this is a terrible pandemic. This has been a terrible outbreak of the virus in Victoria. We cannot ignore that fact in this place. We cannot pretend that these events would have occurred without the community outbreak that occurred in Melbourne and in Victoria. That is why, as the Minister of Health was saying earlier, the way to avoid all of this ultimately is to ensure that we make the outbreak containment measures, the protection around quarantine and the testing and tracing, all of which have been brought into question here. That has led to the community outbreak in Victoria, and that ultimately ends with terrible circumstances like those you've described.