Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Aged Care
My question is to the Prime Minister. The Mercury newspaper reports that there have been no unannounced safety checks at Tasmanian residential aged-care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. By comparison, the aged-care regulator has carried out 63 unannounced visits in New South Wales, 63 in Victoria, 55 in Queensland and 20 in South Australia. In other words, the federal government is flying blind in Tasmania and hoping for the best, which amounts to wilful and dangerous ignorance considering what we've seen in aged care elsewhere. Prime Minister, how can older Tasmanians feel safe in these circumstances? How does the government explain the lack of inspections, and what are you going to do about it?
The Minister for Health may wish to add to this answer. This is a matter that I've been speaking directly with the Tasmanian Premier about. Of course, the aged-care quality commissioner undertakes their processes in relation to Tasmanian facilities. But I know, through the work that has been done through the minister for aged care and agreements we've been able to reach with the Tasmanian government, we'll be working through the very issues you have highlighted. You're right to raise them, and it's important that this is undertaken. It's happening all around the country and it will also happen in Tasmania. The Minister for Health may wish to add to that answer.
I'm pleased to add to the Prime Minister's answer. On 31 January the department contacted aged-care facilities around Australia on early preparation. All aged-care facilities were contacted. That was then followed in terms of actions which were taken on 7 February in relation to aged-care facilities being contacted around the country. In addition to that, on a national level, what we've seen is that on 6 March the minister for aged care and the Chief Medical Officer convened the Aged Care COVID-19 Preparedness Forum, which was open to aged-care facilities around the country. In addition to that, I'm advised that the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner has indeed been in contact with all facilities around the country. That includes direct interviews. A number of those facilities around the country were deemed not ready in preparation in March off the basis of that, and standards were lifted and addressed across the country in relation to all aged-care facilities. A further survey of all facilities has been conducted by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, with subsequent and additional contacts around the country.