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Voices in aged care unite

A community run campaign is hoping to change the way our nation cares for its elderly by lobbying politicians and highlighting the impacts funding cuts have had on the industry, care staff and the people they care for.

Our Turn to Care WA group launch in October (Source: Our Turn to Care)
Our Turn to Care WA group launch in October (Source: Our Turn to Care)

‘Our Turn to Care’ kicked off in Western Australia with union group United Voice, Health Services Union (HSU), as well as community activists made up of workers, family members, older Australians and members of parliament, the initiative is now nationwide.

United Voice WA Assistant Secretary Pat O’Donnell says the campaign was spurred by $4 billion in funding cuts to the aged care sector.

“The Our Turn to Care campaign started in Western Australia and has since launched as a national campaign, with United Voice and the HSU teaming up to spread the message and awareness of the funding cuts, and the necessity of a reliable and sustainable funding model,” Mr O’Donnell says.

“Over the years the Federal Government has cut over $4 billion in funding to the aged care sector [and] these cuts have made it incredible hard for providers and workers to deliver quality and dignified care to older Australians.

“The ‘Our Turn to Care’ campaign is challenging the Turnbull Government to stand up and take responsibility for the issues these funding cuts have caused to the sector and to reinstate funding by creating a sustainable and reliable funding model, while at the same time securing respect and recognition for aged care as a vital service in our community.”

To date, the campaign has been going to workplaces, facilities, churches and community groups to spread the word, as well as lobbying politicians.

Most recently, ‘Our Turn to Care’ in WA has seen workers, just like aged care enrolled nurse Melinda Vaz, getting involved and working hard to get their local representatives to their workplaces to show them personally what the funding cuts have done to the sector.

“These elderly Australians are vulnerable and we should be providing the best quality care possible, but quality care needs funding,” he says.

“Facilities are fighting for every dollar to pay towards the running costs, the costs are increasing but the funding is decreasing - it’s at a crisis point.

“I hope to raise awareness in the community and to our local ministers to help push the Federal Government to give more and put back what they took and more.”

Other aged care staff, in Western Australia alone, have participated in the campaign through involving themselves in over one thousand conversations and over nine hundred pledge pictures.

“This campaign is important because everyone in the sector deserves better,” Mr O’Donnell says.

“Workers deserve respect and recognition for the hard work they do every day to take care of our loved ones - who are the people who have built our country, farmed the land, built houses, raised children and taught them in school, cared for the sick and manufactured our goods.

“Many fought in wars to protect the way of life we enjoy today… they cared for us now it’s our turn to care for them.”

With the campaign reaching across the nation, Mr O’Donnell says it is growing by the day because ‘so many people care about this issue’.

“The responses have been overwhelmingly positive and powerful,” he says.

“Our supporters are passionate and committed to ensuring that our message is amplified because these funding cuts affect millions of people in Australia, and will continue to affect more people if we don’t do something about it now.”

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