House debates

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Aged Care

2:25 pm

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

My question is to the Prime Minister. Elizabeth's mum contracted COVID-19 at Benetas St George's residential aged care in my electorate. Elizabeth says that when her mum was taken to hospital they found she had a secondary chest infection and a urinary tract infection and had been left in soiled nappies for hours on end. Why does the Prime Minister boast about a list of aged-care announcements when residents and their families know the tragic reality of the gap between the Prime Minister's announcements and his delivery?

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

First of all, for all those who have been involved with the very difficult conditions at Benetas St George's: there are 31 patients that have contract COVID at that facility and 28 members of staff, and six people have lost their lives to COVID at Benetas St George's. There are two residents who are currently in hospital.

Benetas St George's notified the Department of Health that it had a positive case on 7 July, and the Department of Health tailored specific support as soon as this notification occurred. Testing of residents and staff commenced on 9 July. The Australian government has provided a range of surge workforce to assist the facility. Australian medical assistance teams also provided onsite advice. The Department of Health and the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre will continue to provide intensive support to Benetas St George's until its outbreak is resolved. All impacted aged-care services in Victoria are receiving assistance from the government, including case managers, PPE, testing support and workforce support.

The initial testing, I noted, occurred on 9 July and regular retesting has occurred, including most recently on 31 July and 4, 7, 11, 18, 22 and 23 August. Staff and residents may be tested on separate days. Workforce included Aspen Medical clinical first-responder onsite; AUSMAT onsite on 14, 15, 16 and 19 August; and an interstate team. We are so thankful to those interstate teams that came from other parts of the country to assist with the workforce support that was needed in our aged-care facilities, particularly including at Benetas St George's.

They are the responses the government has put in place to the very serious conditions that emerged at Benetas St George's that followed on from the significant community outbreak of COVID-19 across Victoria. We will continue to deliver those responses, including giving support to OPAN, which assists with communications with families, and including the provision of PPE out of the National Medical Stockpile. These are our responsibilities and they are what we are doing to deliver support to that facility. To all the families of those, particularly of the six people who have passed away in that facility, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences. We also thank all the staff, including those who've come from other places to support and deal with the very serious and acute conditions that emerged at that facility.