Oct 25, 2019

Aged Care Royal Commission: The most important is yet to come

As the first, much anticipated reporting instalment of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Royal Commission is now a matter of days away, it’s interesting to observe the multitude of expectations being offered by many, via social media platforms essentially. These days, in addition to our often maligned but essential salt of the earth traditional media, social media, for good and bad, reigns supreme. Enabling a viewpoint to be espoused by millions who would possibly never have been heard in the past can be treacherous, but is mostly worthwhile.

As we well know, a world without everyday people having a voice only encourages secrecy and cover-up, which is exactly what has brought us to needing the Royal Commission in the first place.

I do, however, hold a significant amount of trepidation as we progress through the Royal Commission, and especially in anticipation of its first interim report due to be delivered to the Governor General on October 31.

After Oakden hit the headlines almost three years ago now in April 2017, the subsequent exposure of other abuses, mistreatments and, let’s call it for what it is, irrefutable evidence of major systemic maladministration, misconduct and, in many cases evidenced thus far, blatant corruption and criminality.

More shocking has been to see and realize the very parties who collectively, but very much individually, have and still do remain culpable of the multiple transgressions that all lead to a fundamental failure to provide proper, consistent, ethical care, respect and treatment of and for our elderly people. They were and are paid millions to care and they haven’t.

It remains illogical and inconceivable, and will continue to be so to most of us as the Royal commission progresses, that we continue to come up against blatant lies, ignorance and typical propaganda the more we uncover.

These many cohorts have for decades and essentially remain now, unchallenged and in many cases unperturbed by their actions and/or involvements. In any other sector, it would result in jail time.

Sadly, but quite rightly based on usual historical outcomes, the overriding cynicism held and often spoken of across the nation replaces any belief that real action will be taken against these purported crimes and those committing them.

Why would it be any different this time, many ponder.

Tangible outcomes after previous Royal Commissions have been generally zilch. Compounding this fact are the thousands of politically motivated enquiries of past years with similar outcomes.

These failures have degraded our expectations even further, and that now permeates our expectations.

Beyond the actual hearings and our initial hope, nothing it seems materialises at their conclusion given the typical ironic consultation and involvement, in most cases, of the actual culpable, guilty parties – politicians, peak bodies or industry groups. This has been our biggest threat to real reform.

It is that crippling cynicism we have as a nation that I hold as my biggest fear today.

The most important message we now must begin to convey as a nation is the most critically important yet.

Just as important as it, has been to convince our nation of the existence and need to hear the cries for help from the steadfast advocates of decades past, the thousands of individual voices of current and past victims and their families.

Personally, it is more important to me than it was at the time when I implored the nation and the world to acknowledge Oakden was the tip of the iceberg.

Equally as critical was the need to bring the terrifyingly brutal rapes, abuses, bashings and druggings of our elderly parents or grandparents into our nation’s lives via television to convince our nation that this is real.

Now is the time to ensure our political leaders, regardless of party or stature, our representative of Her Majesty the Queen, the Governor General, and the entire nation’s bureaucracy, are in no doubt whatsoever that we will collectively as a population be ensuring, demanding and facilitating ways and means to ensure each and every recommendation will be immediately implemented.

People who have done wrong will be punished, by law. Those who should have, or could have, but didn’t intervene or discharge their duties properly will be held accountable. And crucially, the respect, safeguarding, safety and care needs of our nation’s vulnerable will be delivered unequivocally by the people for the people.

These outcomes will be just as ground breaking and formidable as I predict this Royal Commission is going to be.

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