Monday, 15 March 2021
I rise today to speak to the horrific findings in the final report of the royal commission into aged care, and to the Liberal-National government's shameful legacy of neglect when it comes to our older Australians. The report and its 148 recommendations makes it absolutely clear: Australia's aged-care system is in crisis.Make no mistake, this crisis is due to the severe funding cuts of the Morrison government. The fact is this government has completely failed our older Australians. So many locals have told me constantly that this is a heartbreaking national disgrace and I agree with them.
The commission heard that 20 per cent of Australians living in aged care are receiving substandard care and that about 50 per cent of those living in aged care are malnourished. We know that 685 older Australians have tragically died in our nursing homes due this this government's mismanagement of the pandemic. This is a government that's made savage cuts in the aged-care sector—$1.7 billion has been cut from aged care. Because of these cuts of the Morrison government more than 100,000 people are now desperately waiting for Home Care Packages. Many older Australians needing high-level care are now sometimes waiting up to three years. This is disgraceful. Because of these cuts, we have tragically seen the death of nearly 11,000 older Australians who were waiting for home care in their homes. In the past year 11,000 have died waiting for that care. Shamefully, the wait for older Australians to enter residential care has now increased to 148 days. This is a desperate situation.
The royal commission heard so many stories of terrible neglect—heartbreaking stories about malnourishment, about mistreatment, about untreated wounds in many people in nursing homes. This government's legacy is disgraceful. It is completely unacceptable. Our older Australians deserve so much better. We have got to remember it was our seniors who built our nation. They worked hard, paid their taxes, raised their families, contributed to their communities. In their retirement they must have access to health and aged-care services when they need them.
So many groups have called on the Morrison government to act but they just completely ignore it. It seems so many times that everything that this government is responsible for they refuse to take any responsibility for. I say this to the Prime Minister and his government: aged care is your responsibility. It is a federal government responsibility and you must act. Indeed, as one of the commissioners from the royal commission, Commissioner Briggs, has said, 'The government must step up and embrace its responsibilities for aged care'. I would also like to take this opportunity to commend our aged-care workers who do an incredible job in our aged-care sector. They need more pay and they need more support. Let's never forget the crisis in aged care is due to the Morrison government's severe funding cuts and wilful neglect.