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Industry comes together to demand reform in aged care

A new sector alliance announced today, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), is demanding huge industry reform once the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommendations are released on 26 February.

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The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) is calling for an overhaul of the aged care industry, including in design, objectives, regulation, and resourcing. [Source: iStock]

Aged care organisations and peak bodies have united once again in this new alliance, releasing its campaign for the 'It's time to care about aged care' report, that will target key marginal electorates where more than 800,000 older Australians live in a bid to encourage Federal Parliament to rectify problems in the sector.  

The AACC is calling for an overhaul of the aged care industry, including in design, objectives, regulation, and resourcing, which they believe is vital to the delivery of quality care and services to older people in Australia.

Patricia Sparrow, AACC representative and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of industry peak body Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), says that successive Governments have had more than 20 independent reviews over 20 years of the inadequate aged care system and the need for major reform, but have done nothing.

"After 20 years of missed opportunities, Australia cannot let the release of the final Royal Commission report later this month pass without taking real action,” explains Ms Sparrow.

"Australia currently spends about half of what other comparable countries do on looking after their most vulnerable older citizens.

"Enough is enough – Australia should no longer accept the drip-feed of piecemeal rescue packages and ad-hoc changes."

Some of the problems that AACC has highlighted include:

  • 16,000 older Australians dying in 2017-18 while waiting for a government-subsidised support package in their own home

  • An additional 100,000 people are waiting for home support at their approved level, and those requiring high-level packages are waiting at least 12 months

  • A further 88,000 places will be needed in aged care facilities over the next 10 years, costing $55 billion

The AACC also points out that the problem in aged care is very clear, that Australia only provides 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to the sector. Comparable countries to Australia provide 2.5 percent GDP to aged care.

Sean Rooney, another AACC representative and CEO of industry peak body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), says that the residential aged care sector is currently in crisis with 64 percent of homes operating at a loss in 2020. 

"Under-resourcing of the aged care system has been growing for a long time, and is not the fault of any one government or Parliament," says Mr Rooney.

"But it is the responsibility of all Parliamentarians to recognise the injustice and inequity of maintaining a system the Royal Commission described as ‘a shocking tale of neglect’."

The AACC campaign has also released a report showcasing the 30 Australian electorates with the biggest "oldest" Australian communities by age, as well as their Parliamentary member representatives. 

They believe these members of Parliament have an obligation to fix the aged care system for the majority of older people in their electorates.

Critical decisions makers in this higher density older communities include:

  • Minister for Aged Care, Greg Hunt, in Australia's eighth oldest electorate, Flinders in Melbourne, with 50.7 percent of voters aged over 55

  • The Opposition's former Minister for Aged Care, Justine Elliott, holds the sixth older electorate, in Richmond on the New South Wales north coast, with 51.4 percent of voters aged over 55

Mr Rooney says, "The 30 Members of Parliament who represent Australia’s ‘oldest’ electorates have the greatest opportunity to represent the needs of their communities, so that older Australians are finally given the respect, resources and support they deserve.

"The Australian community looks to these elected officials to stand up for them in the national debate and to help influence positive outcomes on behalf of their constituents.

"These MPs have the opportunity to truly achieve something great – and avoid the mistakes of the past – by creating a sustainable and equitable aged care system that will stand the test of time."

Ms Sparrow adds that the aged care challenges will only grow in the coming years as the Baby Boomer generation heads towards aged care support avenues.

The AACC represents more than 1,000 organisations who deliver 70 percent of Government funded aged care services to 1.3 million Australians in their own home or in residential settings. This includes not for profit providers and a number of private operators.

For more information, visit the Australian Aged Care Collaboration website to view the 'It's time to care about aged care' report.

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