Monday, 15 February 2021
The royal commission into aged care will be completed and delivered at the end of this month. The recommendations are vital to fixing the flaws—indeed, fault lines—in aged care in Australia. This government has failed senior Australians. This government has failed the families of senior Australians who rely on and want to be able to trust that their loved ones are being properly cared for. This government has failed workers in aged care. The coalition has had the past eight years to reform aged care and has missed the mark at every single opportunity. I, like many Australians am, frankly, outraged and disgusted by the failures of this government and its dereliction of our aged-care sector.
That's why today I want to tell you a story about Judy, who contacted my office last year after the tragic loss of her mum. Judy's story has hit me professionally but personally too. Judy's mother, Joan, passed away tragically well before her time, presenting to hospital from an aged-care facility with pressure wounds, dehydration and malnutrition. She had widespread body wounds that had developed into narcotising fasciitis; gas gangrene, which is just putrid; and septic shock. This tragedy around Joan's death has been medically substantiated and well documented. It is not just family hearsay. To say Joan's pathology at the time of hospital admission was alarming is truly an understatement.
Despite the trauma of losing her mother, Judy committed to advocating for the system to be better, to make Joan's passing something that would change things for the better. She wrote to the minister and submitted many questions to the commission. She pleaded for answers at the time. The minister's office promised her that the commission would answer all of her questions. Despite many questions being asked, the appropriate answers were never given. I am disgusted that this coalition government would deem this okay. Where is this okay? When is this ever okay? Every day we are losing senior Australians, like Joan, to a failing system that is underfunded and, quite frankly, under-regulated, not to mention understaffed. I implore those opposite to consider the loss of life we have seen in just the past year across this sector. The aged care minister may not know the figures but he should know the consequences. This government must fix aged care in Australia.