Senate debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Aged Care

2:21 pm

Photo of Richard ColbeckRichard Colbeck (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Henderson, for your question. From the very beginning, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a top priority for this government. We knew that our most vulnerable senior Australians were most at risk, and we acted at every stage to prepare for a worst-case scenario should this virus enter our aged-care facilities. We closed our borders. We planned for an emergency response with our medical professionals. We negotiated hospital agreements. We increased the capacity of our providers. We resourced a surge workforce for residential aged care. We secured and distributed a substantial national stockpile of PPE at a time of global shortage. We have invested, to date, over $1.7 billion to plan, prepare, act and recover. There are no countries where there has been widespread community transmission that have been able to avoid outbreaks in residential aged care. Here in Australia, we've seen the devastating loss of 693 Australians in aged care. Our condolences will always be with their friends and families.

When community outbreaks occurred and COVID-19 hit Victoria and New South Wales, we came together with a collaborative response between federal government agencies, state government providers, professionals, families and senior Australians, hospital networks and others to do what we could to manage the outbreaks and to keep it out of the homes of our most vulnerable. As I noted yesterday, in our response to the royal commission, we've been able to stop the spread of COVID-19 to senior Australians in 97 per cent of our aged-care facilities.


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