Jul 21, 2021

Richard Colbeck – where the bloody hell are you?

Where is Richard Colbeck

Colbeck arrived in Tokyo on July 19, despite the Japanese government recently announcing a state of emergency due to a recent COVID outbreak. 

While Colbeck’s commitment to his role of Minister for Sport can not be questioned, his actions can only be described as tone-deaf when viewed regarding his aged care portfolio.

Unfortunately, this disconnect with the aged care sector and the inability to read the room has been a hallmark of Colbeck’s tenure. 

Evidence of this can be found in his bumbling, uninformed reactions to some of the most pivotal moments relating to aged care in recent history.

Unaware and unavailable

When the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Interim Report was released in October 2019, thousands of aged care professionals and families around the country looked to industry leaders to validate their concerns and take immediate steps to rectify the situation. 

The Interim Report, titled Neglect, was both candid and scathing in its assessment of the Australian aged care sector, but all of the issues raised within the report’s findings were well documented by ongoing media coverage and also highlighted in previous investigations into the sector.

Research contained within the report also estimated that somewhere between 22-50% of people living in aged care were malnourished, a statistic that Colbeck was unaware of when questioned months later by NSW Senator Kristina Keneally.

At this point, aged care advocates across the country began to question if the Minister for Aged Care had actually read the report at all.

The added scrutiny of a pandemic has done nothing but reinforce the idea that Colbeck has little interest in aged care and takes even less accountability.

The federal government did not have a specific pandemic plan in place for the aged care sector, despite the forewarning of rising death tolls in foreign aged care homes prior to COVID arriving on Australian shores.

He also misrepresented Australia’s percentage of aged-care COVID deaths in comparison to other countries by using out-of-date data in a parliamentary inquiry last year.

At best, this highlights yet another example of a lack of knowledge or interest in the aged care sector. At worst, it can be viewed as deception, used to make Australia’s catastrophic failures in aged care look better.

Most recently, Colbeck has come under even more scrutiny for admitting that he doesn’t know how many aged care staff have been vaccinated.

Diluting the blame

If one specific act was used to represent Colbeck’s tenure in aged care, there would be no better example than his famous decision to walk out of a senate inquiry before Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong had the chance to reply to his previous statement.

As mounting pressure began to grow for Colbeck’s resignation, Health Minister Greg Hunt took on the primary responsibility of the aged care portfolio after the PM’s cabinet reshuffle in December.

While Colbeck still managed to retain the aged care portfolio, his official title was changed to the Minister for Aged Care Services. This shift also allowed him to fade into the background and positioned Hunt as the new spokesperson for aged care.

With the notoriously absent Colbeck now even further from sight, placing any blame for previous COVID failures in aged care becomes an even more diluted process and easy for the federal government to avoid. 

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  1. This is why so many are leaving this industry. The neglect of the industry by so-called intelligent people who are paid by the taxpayer. Paid by Aged Care workers who are paid ridiculously low hrly rates and work so hard. If it were men doing this work and they dominated this industry it would have very different outcomes. As long as they keep hiring foreign workers to do this work the companies have it in the bag. Most foreign workers don’t join or union and are too scared to speak up on issues. From my experience it seems the ones that speak up are the Australians who eventually move on. They are the backbone of the industry in alot of circumstances because they speak English and understand the mostly Anglo residents and can communicate with residents so much better. I am not against foreign workers they have been dealt a blow because they are foreign. Taken advantage of particularly when they join industries that have them here on contracts most often than not. This prevents them from leaving a certain facility for a period of up to 3 or more yrs. Alot go into training as Nurses and good on them. But until Aged Care offer better conditions and pay rates you will see more foreign workers and the very few Australians left in the industry being used and abused in an industry that is transient at best.

  2. He will never kick a goal for Aged Care! You never saw people jumping for joy, when he said he was committed to the aged care sector. The Olympic,s that,s a different story, nobody asks negative questions,Gold Gold Gold!
    Well Aged Care, sorry to say, you still haven’t made it to the starting block! and many wont be around in 2032.
    But isn’t that the problem! As for the workforce how dare they ask for increase pay, better training, staff ratio,s, is that what most of the Organisation have told him?
    Just give us the extra money we know where to spend it and stop asking so many difficult question.
    Not all i might say.
    Can you see the passion in him, for a change for the better, in Aged Care. NOT

  3. I have no doubt that many Aged Care residents are malnourished ‘Quite apart from the quality of meals issue I believe that the lack of staff to give adequate time to allow frail residents time to actually eat their meals —or else to supervise their intake ,is a major contributing factor.I would like to see the Minister commit to having the nutritional needs of frail aged residents made a priority with specific instructions to providers regarding regular charting of weight loss and the keeping of food intake charts .

  4. Hear here! He is not interested in the Aged Care sector. He sees the industry as below him. He sure makes up for it though with the “important” officials in Japan though. Impressing them with his elitism BS!

  5. No surprises here. The Australian Government is disconnected from Aged Care to such an extent that it does not yet understand that competence is as important as money !

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