Tuesday, 25 February 2020
At the request of Senator Keneally, I move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) all Australians deserve the best possible healthcare, especially older Australians,
(ii) our community is ageing, with population projections for Australia suggesting that there will be 4 million people aged between 65-84 years by 2022, with the over 65 and over 85 cohorts rapidly accelerating over the next decade,
(iii) a third of this cohort live outside of major cities in rural and regional Australia,
(iv) as our population ages, our community will increasingly rely on appropriate aged care services for good health, support and dignity,
(v) Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT) are teams of experienced, qualified and highly trained medical, clinically and allied health professionals who are responsible for assessing the level of government-funded care that ageing Australians should receive,
(vi) in 2018-19, ACATs provided over 178,000 assessments,
(vii) ACAT teams are local, know their communities, have enormous expertise over 30 years, and their role is to independently assess what older Australians need and identify the best options,
(viii) ACAT teams are independent of private service providers and owe no allegiance or preference for any particular provider, and
(ix) the Morrison Government has announced it intends to privatise the ACAT workforce and put out a tender for these vital services;
(b) rejects the Morrison Government for its plans to privatise ACAT, which would threaten the quality and independence of services provided to ageing Australians, and jeopardise the jobs and independence of Australian healthcare professionals; and
(c) seeks concurrence for this motion in the House.
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 the parliament. The government made a commitment in the 2018-19 budget to create a single assessment workforce for aged care in line with the Tune review recommendation which states: 'That the government integrate regional assessment services with aged-care assessment teams.' Further, in its interim report the royal commission 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 reject the false claim by Labor about consultation. In fact, there have been several rounds of consultation with states following the Tune review recommendations. The government remain committed to creating a better experience for senior Australians entering aged care and our position remains unchanged. We are committed to ensuring that Australians seeking to enter aged care receive the timely, consistent and high-quality needs assessments that they deserve.