Anika Wells was named the new Minister for Aged Care and Sport, formerly the position of Senator Richard Colbeck.
This new Cabinet Ministry announcement was made just after the Labor Party received confirmation of forming a majority Government with 77 seats.
The Outer Ministry seat for Aged Care went to soon-to-be sworn in Minister Wells, despite speculation it would go to Clare O'Neil, who held the position of Shadow Minister for Aged Care for over a year. Instead, Minister O'Neil was given the Home Affairs and Cyber Security portfolios.
While aged care was integral to the Labor Government's Election campaign, the aged care portfolio still remains in the Outer Ministry.
PM Albanese says, "This is an exciting team. It's a team which is overflowing, I think, with talent, with people who are absolutely committed to making a difference as Ministers and Assistant Ministers in my Government.
"This is the largest number of women who have ever served in an Australian Cabinet, with ten women in the Cabinet."
Other notable Cabinet appointments for the aged care sector include:
- Ged Kearney MP as Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care
- Matt Keogh MP as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
- Amanda Rishworth MP as Minister for Social Services
- Bill Shorten MP as Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services
- Matt Thistlethwaite MP as Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
- Justine Elliot MP as Assistant Minister for Social Services
- Emma McBride MP as Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health
On Tuesday morning, the first Labor Caucus meeting was held, where PM Albanese thanked the Labor team for their hard work during the Election campaign.
PM Albanese says, "We asked Australians to vote for change, and they did that. And when you do change the Government, you do change the country. We made history.
"And deliver we will - more secure work, taking the pressure off the cost of living… we will fix aged care…"
The new Cabinet will be sworn into Parliament at Government House today, followed by the first full Ministry meeting of the new Government.
Aged care sector welcomes change of guard
New peak body for the aged care industry, the Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), has welcomed and congratulated the new Ministers taking on the important portfolios for the aged care sector.
The Association wants to see the new Ministers and Federal Government deliver on their Election promises for the sector and has requested that aged care reform be made a priority for the Government’s first 100 days in power.
Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ACCPA, Paul Sadler, says, "The aged and community care sector welcomes Mark, Anika and Ged to the portfolio and, with aged care a key focus of Labor’s Election campaign, we look forward to working collaboratively on sector reform.
"Mark Butler is well known to the aged care sector from his previous role leading the Living Longer Living Better reforms in the [former Prime Minister Julia] Gillard Government. We will be looking to Mark to drive positive reforms across health and aged care.
"Anika Wells has been vocal in Parliament about the crisis in aged care, and worked towards holding the previous Government accountable for implementing the Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations.
"She strengthened this advocacy during the pandemic, highlighting issues around access to [Personal Protective Equipment] (PPE), and the safety and wellbeing of aged care residents.
"Anika has stated previously that her mother worked for 20 years in aged care, and that she also worked in casual roles across two aged care homes. We look forward to seeing how Anika uses her knowledge and connection to the [sector] in her role.”
Mr Sadler also congratulated Minister O'Neil for her new appointment and thanked her for strong advocacy for the aged care sector and older Australians during her time as Shadow Minister for Aged Care.
He adds that her leadership and advocacy in her former position also assisted in aged care being a prominent priority of the Election.
Mr Sadler says that Labor campaigned for Australia to transform into a country that is more compassionate and caring to its community, and that ACCPA is excited to see how this will translate into the aged care sector.
"We look forward to working with the new Ministers to ensure older Australians get the care they deserve, workers are better paid and respected, and there is immediate action on much-needed sector reforms, as outlined by the Royal Commission," says Minister Sadler.
“The care economy was at the heart of the Labor pitch for the Election and it should be top of its agenda in Government. We’d also like to see the aged care portfolio be a dedicated role elevated to a Cabinet-level.
"The Election has helped focus attention on the need for ambitious action for older Australians and for greater respect and better pay for aged care workers.
"We look forward to working in partnership with the new Minister for Aged Care and the whole of Government on the transformation needed to deliver better support and care for all older Australians."
Peak body for older Australians, National Seniors Australia, has also welcomed the new Ministers who will be working in the aged care sector and noted the incoming experience and youthful energy that will be brought into these portfolio roles.
Chief Advocate of National Seniors, Ian Henschke, explains that Minister Butler has held the health and aged care role in the previous Labor Government and was also the Shadow Minister for a period of time.
"National Seniors is looking forward to continuing our relationships with Mark Butler and Ged Kearney which are well established," says Mr Henschke.
"We will also be seeking a meeting with Anika Wells as a priority to welcome her to her new ministry and provide her with the detailed National Seniors research into the priorities in aged care, especially home care.
"The process of responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is well underway. Given the Commissioners’ deadlines for reform will expire this parliamentary term, it is essential the new Government gets the policies and implementation right.
"There is a huge public expectation to end the neglect and abuse in aged care."
National Seniors also wants to thank the outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his efforts and work in establishing the Royal Commission, which he called to restore the country's "faith" in the aged care sector.
Dementia Australia intends to work with key Ministers to ensure dementia care is top of the agenda for the new Government.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dementia Australia, Maree McCabe, says that the organisation has already worked very closely with Minister Butler over the years and he has met with dementia advocates to discuss and share stories around dementia and quality dementia care.
"Getting quality care right for people living with dementia will have a profound and lasting impact for all," explains Ms McCabe.
"There is still much to be done to fulfil the recommendations of the Royal Commission and we look forward to continuing our discussions with Minister Butler and his team.
"We welcome the appointment of [Minister] Wells as the new Aged Care Minister, and we look forward to working with her to ensure quality dementia care remains top of the agenda in the aged care system reforms.”