May 27, 2019

Don’t let royal commission delay reforms: industry welcomes new aged care minister

Richard Colbeck, the Liberal Senator for Tasmania, has issued a statement about his “excitement” in taking on responsibility for the portfolios of Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport.

“It is an important time in these portfolios, particularly with the Aged Care Royal Commission underway and the need to support senior Australians in their later life,” he said.

“Fundamentally, this portfolio is all about people, which is what makes it so exciting,” he said.

Senator Colbeck told HelloCare, “It is a privilege to serve as the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians. Aged care involves the lives of so many Australians directly and indirectly, and virtually all families will have an experience with aged care during their lifetime.

“As the new Minister I am focused on ensuring that our record funding enables senior Australians to age with dignity and receive the care that they deserve.

“Delivering on the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will be a vital part of this, to ensure that the Australian community can have confidence that their loved ones are receiving a high standard of care and respect.”

Senator Colbeck also said investing in measures to reduce loneliness among senior Australians will be a priority.

Government must ensure better outcomes for older Australians: COTA

The Council of the Ageing congratulated new minister, and urged him to make planning for an ageing population a national priority.

“I urge Minister Colbeck… to not wait for the Royal Commission to be completed to make a number of additional changes we urgently need”, said COTA’s chief executive, Mr Ian Yates.

The new Morrison Government must ensure better outcomes for older Australians in terms of aged care, health, employment, income security and housing, and must also address better coordination across government, Mr Yates said.

“The numbers of older Australians grow every year and will do so for decades, which must be seen as an opportunity to harness the skills, wisdom and experience of older Australians through better employment strategies, a real attack on age discrimination, and health policies that support active ageing,” Mr Yates said.

COTA has written to the prime minister Scott Morrison, outlining its priorities for older Australians, including the urgent need to deliver more effective home care to reduce the 100,000 people waiting list.

Mr Yates said the government’s announcement of a Retirement Incomes Review was “encouraging”.

Mr Yates thanked the outgoing Minister for Aged Care The Hon Ken Wyatt.

“Ken Wyatt has worked tirelessly for the welfare of people using aged care services and put in place many new reforms to ensure older Australians receive higher quality aged care that meets their needs, leaving a great legacy for his successor to continue,” Mr Yates said.

“Urgent action” required in aged care: LASA

Leading Age Services Australia called for “urgent action” from new Minister, issuing a statement saying the Morrison government must make improving aged care “an urgent priority”.

LASA CEO Sean Rooney said, “The Prime Minister says that he wants to build a culture of respect for older Australians and we back that commitment 100 per cent.”

Mr Rooney said the industry is asking the government for more aged care funding, to legislate a maximum three month waiting time for home care, to invest in the aged care workforce, and to develop a national strategy for ageing well.

“This Government must commit to urgent action to address these issues if we are to meet the changing needs and expectations of the growing numbers of older Australians,” Mr Rooney said.

“While the important work of the Royal Commission continues, we must get on with the job of making the system better right now,” he said.

Mr Rooney also acknowledged the contribution of the former Minister for Aged Care.

“Minister Wyatt worked tirelessly to press ahead with the reform agenda in aged care. His contribution to aged care reform has been tangible and credible,” he said

“Not everyone in Australia is getting the aged care they need”: ACSA

In a statement, Aged & Community Services Australia said Senator Colbeck is taking on one of the most “important and potentially rewarding” posts in the new parliament.

“There are significant challenges, but also huge opportunities presented by our ageing nation,” said ACSA CEO, Patricia Sparrow.

Ms Sparrow said “not everyone in Australia is getting the aged care they need” and the nation needs “a better plan” for the ageing population.

“There is reason to feel optimistic about what can be achieved through the big national conversation we are now having about ageing and aged care,” she said.

ACSA is delivering a brief to the new government, and said the royal commission must not delay urgent reforms.

This article was edited on 28 May to include a comment from Senator Colbeck.

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  1. Our family is currently visiting our mother 3 x a day to feed her in a nursing home. She has dementia and every hour..every day is challenging. The nursing home simply does not have the funding for the staff to fully care for her throughout the day and night. Her dementia is so challenging that we are convinced that she would starve if we were not there to feed her. Feeding her takes us at least an hour..if not more most days. If she’s asleep…they are not inclined to wake her for meals…her condition is so demanding of their time and energy. She falls out of bed every day. She tries to get out to go to…who knows where? They have a motion sensor and crash mat…they have no solutions for this falling?? She has already fractured one hip…and I could go on and on.

  2. Why not ask the real question?

    Is there anything in the new ministers track record in construction and as a businessman that suggests he has any experience in caring for people and understands what might be needed in a sector like this?.

    This is an industry that has been close to government and been a co-designer of the new changes – ones that protect them and their interests. Government consults these stakeholders and nothing happens without their approval. What they want is more of the same with a few tweaks to make it look like change. Its not a solution.

    What they are really frightened of is that the Royal Commission will recommend something totally different because that is needed to protect residents and see that they are cared for properly. That is unlikely to be in the commercial interests of the big providers and will require a different business strategy..

  3. Further to my comment

    We need to be told more about the minister’s record and his experience in human services. The Conversation reports that he has “a background in construction and small business. In parliament, he has had a variety of positions, including as parliamentary secretary for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as finance and administration. More recently, he has been a junior minister in trade, tourism and international education”. It suggests that with the Royal Commission in progress the Prime minister is hoping the new minister “has a safe pair of hands”.

    When he announced the Royal Commission the Prime Minister said that “The Royal Commission will be in addition to, not instead of, the actions we are taking” so he also does not expect real change from the commission. They will all want to protect the free market based aged care roadmap that they designed together. The Royal Commission if it does its job will need to look at that as a part of the problem.

    When we look at what the ministers available record shows and consider the close working relationship that industry has had with government in developing the roadmap the new minister seems to be the sort of person they would want — but is he what the residents and home care recipients and their communities want, and the system needs? A cynic might well ask. Is this the minister the industry asked for and got?

  4. Unfortunately Australia has a very effective sector of professional lobbyist who seem to have “captured” most of the regulatory agencies.
    A good example is the recent Banking Royal Commission. That Royal Commission clearly showed the disastrous consumer outcomes that were not punished and probably will not be punished in any meaningful way.
    Another example is the Royal Commission into institutionalised child abuse. The organisations that abused children and covered it up have not had their right to work with children removed. In fact, most of them still receive government funding and favorable income tax treatment.
    I hope that the Aged Care Royal Commission will deliver better consumer outcomes.
    The new minister for Age Care will need to decide very early in his tenure if he is the Minister for the aged care industry or the Minister for the aged care consumer and their families.
    He cannot be both.
    I appreciate that is a harsh statement but it is true.
    The Aged Care regulators were long ago captured by the Aged Care industry, changing the regulators name and some new brochures has not changed their attitude.
    The new minister can choose very soon to be the Minister that consumers and their families will remember as their champion, or be remembered as just another administrator who poured more tax payers money into a sector which is focused on the economical storage of old people.

  5. Max we are on the same page about capture. Government also puts inquiries into trusted hands – those who share their views!

    A senior politician once told colleagues in his profession what his party planned and warned them that they needed to do something about it. When asked why, as a member of parliament, he/she was not better able to do so he/she explained that he/she was a career politician first and had to abide by party policy. That profession took government on and won!

    Its not politicians who will eventually have to fix this but you, me and the rest of the community. At Aged Care Crisis we are pressing for the management and oversight of aged care to be moved into local communities and managed closely with local community groups who would have important roles.

    Government should support, mentor and provide backup. These community groups would be organised around the sort of empowered visitors (power to see documents, interview staff and investigate) that other sectors have in Queensland and Victoria. They would be there for residents and families to address issues in care and keep community informed so that they can meet with managers, advise families, avoid poor providers etc. and so make this market work.

    Empowered visitors were recommended by a review in 1989 but rejected by the market sector. They were recommended for aged care to the senate inquiry in recent submissions from the Queensland and Victorian regulatory bodies that use them. The senate ignored this in its report.

    We take the view that care of the vulnerable is the responsibility of every citizen and of every community and whoever does that is our agent. It is our responsibility to see that they do what we want and organise ourselves to do that. That responsibility has been taken from us and we should insist that we get it back. It is government’s job to support community and not to erode it.

    As a community we have plenty of local expertise we can use but we have developed a cargo mentality which expects government to do everything for us. Community involvement works for indigenous communities and is likely to work for us too.

    What we are not getting is support from a disengaged community.

    If we build community and gain knowledge and experience, we might even form a skills base of responsible citizens from which we will get politicians who represent community interests and not parties who represent some part of the market!

    1. I could be the Community you are talking about. I would choose the best and most caring people to watch over our most vulnerable and use my wisdom and experience in Aged Care to make sure everyone employed in Aged Care from CMs to RNs to FMs and those hard to touch Regional Managers works as AINs 4 weeks a year to get down to the raw and often confronting truth of what staff and residents endure from day to night. Why not??

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