Thursday, 6 February 2020
Before asking that the motion be taken as formal, I wish to inform the chamber that Senator Siewert will sponsor the motion. I, and also on behalf of Senator Siewert, move:
That the Senate—
(i) with deep concern, the Government's decision to privatise aged care assessments from April 2021 with a tender to be held this year, and
(ii) the Government's decision was not made in consultation with State Health Ministers;
(b) recognises that there are eighty aged care assessment teams (ACAT) operating across the nation which include state-employed multi-disciplinary teams of nurses, geriatricians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and social workers who work at public hospitals, to expertly assess the more complex level of care required by individual elderly Australians;
(c) further notes the recent statement by the Chair of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on ACAT privatisation that:
(i) the Royal Commission's Interim Report did not endorse the Government's position on privatising ACAT, and
(ii) the Commission has not yet made a recommendation about which sector or mechanism will best achieve an integration of Regional Assessment Services and the Aged Care Assessment Teams;
(d) acknowledges that:
(i) health experts argue that no private providers can offer the expertise to adequately assess the often complex needs of hundreds of thousands of elderly Australians, and
(ii) outsourcing assessment teams would have a serious detrimental impact on the delivery of proper care; and
(e) calls on the Federal Government to consult with the state health ministers on the issue of ACAT privatisation, as a matter of urgency.
The government has not made a decision to privatise aged-care assessments. It's disappointing that claims to that effect are misleading the community and parliament. The government made a commitment in the 2018-19 budget to streamline the assessment process of aged care in line with the 2017 Tune review recommendation, which goes as follows: 'That the government integrate regional assessment services with aged-care assessment teams.'
The royal commission in the interim report stated:
The Government has announced that it will implement this recommendation and will integrate the two assessment workforces from 2020. The Royal Commission considers that this integration needs to be progressed urgently.
The government is committed to creating a better experience for senior Australians entering aged care, and our position remains unchanged: we're committed to ensuring that Australians seeking to enter aged care receive timely, consistent, high-quality needs assessments.
I speak in support of this motion. These assessment teams play a vital role in connecting everyday aged Australians with the health care and support they need. What is truly important is that the care package that the assessment team delivers is the right one, because it affects the health and happiness of people in need. These are real people with real needs which should not be ignored. So we support this, and we call on the government to consult with the state health ministers on the issue of ACAT privatisation as a matter of urgency.