Government 'falls short' on aged care: Macarthur MP

Picture: Shutterstock

Picture: Shutterstock

Macarthur MP Dr Mike Freelander says the government has fallen short on its responsibility to older Australians in aged care.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's final report was released earlier this year.

The commission's final report Care, Dignity and Respect made 148 recommendations to the government in an effort to address the aged care crisis.

However, Dr Freelander said the government had yet to address these recommendations eight months after the report was released.

"Why would the Morrison government still insist on ignoring, or outright refusing, to act on some of the commission's crucial recommendations?" he said.

"Blindly throwing money at the sector, with no strings attached and no guarantee that it goes towards improving the quality of care that older Australians receive, will do little to solve the longstanding issues.

"After eight years in office, the coalition has learned little from their mistakes."

The report found that 30 per cent of aged care residents had experienced substandard care due to "fundamental systemic flaws" in the system and laws governing the sector.

It also found that up to 18 per cent of aged residents had been physically or sexually assaulted.

The commission also revealed that more than two-thirds of those in residential care were either malnourished or at risk of being malnourished.

Dr Freelander said 100,000 older Australians remained on the waitlist for a home care package.

"That's 100,000 parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who are being forced to wait years to receive the care they are entitled to.

"To date, the coalition is refusing to take necessary steps to increase staffing levels, ensure nurses are on site in our nursing homes, or to clear the backlog for home care packages.

"After months of continued neglect, the coalition government is finally bringing forward debate, by way of the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 1) Bill 2021.

"However, the Government's response continues to fall far too short, for so many older Australians who deserve better."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged an initial $452 million to bolster the sector, with more funding flagged in the federal budget.

Mr Morrison said back in March that the values, rights and needs of older Australians needed to be at the centre of aged care.

He said the findings provided the government with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul the system.

"It will test my government, the budget and test the parliament," he told reporters.

"It will test the way in which we are prepared to deal with this issue."

HammondCare, which has aged care facilities across south west Sydney, welcomed the final report when it was first released.

Hammondcare chair Mike Baird said at the time that he looked forward to working with all relevant stakeholders.

"The report makes it clear Australia must do better in providing support for our older Australians," Mr Baird said.

"Community expectations are for an improved aged care system delivering a better quality of care for older people.

"The recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission will require significant additional funding in coming years, but at the same time, the aged care sector can do better and consumers need to acknowledge they too can play a part.

"Whilst there is a role for government, there is also a role to be played by consumers who have a capacity to pay, to be willing to contribute to their care needs."