House debates

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Questions without Notice

Aged Care

2:48 pm

Photo of Julie CollinsJulie Collins (Franklin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. The Productivity Commission has revealed that complaints about the quality of aged care rose by more than 50 per cent in the two years before the pandemic. Did the Prime Minister's decision to cut $1.7 billion from aged care leave frail and vulnerable older Australians better or worse off?

2:49 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very pleased to answer this. One of the things that we have done is to establish the first ever Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner. This is an important role designed precisely to ensure that we are investigating the situations of individuals, that we are allowing for overall quality control. This was something which was done on our watch, in our time, to ensure that there is oversight and that there is visitation; there have been over 620 visits during the course of this pandemic alone.

In addition to that we have established and put in place the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program. That, so far, has already established indicators and put in place indicators which measure pressure injuries, use of physical restraint and unplanned weight loss in particular—so a focus precisely on issues in relation to nourishment and care. There are further elements being developed right now in relation to falls and fractures, and all of these are in line with the actions reducing misuse of medicines in aged-care settings which we have taken with regard to the budget.

More broadly and more generally, as I said earlier and as the Prime Minister has said, we have gone from a $13 billion investment in aged care under the previous government to a projected $25.444 billion investment in the final year of the current forward estimates. The average increase has been $1 billion and more, and what we are seeing at the moment is that being put into place.

With regard to home care packages, I think it is worth emphasising that there were 60,000 home care packages under the previous government and that that has now grown to 150,000, and will grow to 164,000 over the course of the current forward estimates. The elderly population has not doubled in that time, but our funding has more than doubled; our funding has close to tripled, and the places have more than doubled. So it is very important to understand, on the opposition's own terms, that the ratio of places to elderly people is dramatically higher under us. And that does lead to increased quality of care. That does lead to the passionate commitment that we have to supporting elder Australians being put into place.

Every day we fight for these things because we believe in them. That's why we've invested, that's why we've more than doubled the places, that's why we've almost tripled the funding, that's why we've increased the ratios—all of these things coupled with the royal commission, the cop on the beat. The quality indicators are about saving lives and protecting lives. (Time expired)