Aged care sector unites to target marginal seats at next election

The final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will land on 26 February, and Australia’s aged care sector is getting on the front foot to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.

The six leading aged care bodies have united under one banner and are planning to target older voters in marginal seats in the lead-up to the next election to demand action in the sector.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), launched on Monday, has brought together more than 1000 organisations that deliver 70 per cent of government-subsidised aged care services to 1.3 million Australians. It includes not-for-profit providers, primarily church and other charity organisations, and a number of private operators, as a new single industry voice delivering quality care for older Australians.

AACC representatives Sean Rooney and Patricia Sparrow said more than 20 government aged-care reviews in 20 years had failed to fix the inadequate system.

“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,” Ms Sparrow said.

“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.”

Mr Rooney said the residential aged care sector was in crisis with 64 per cent of homes operating at a loss in 2020, almost double the medium-term average of 33 per cent.

“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,” he said. “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 has made a campaign advertisement that highlights the issues relating to the system and released a report titled It’s Time To Care About Aged Care that identifies the 30 members of the 151-member Federal Parliament who represent the ‘oldest’ Australian communities by age.

See the advertisement below:

Of these seats, 15 are marginal, and in some cases are held by only a few hundred votes. They contain 814,950 voters aged over 55, an extraordinarily concentrated voting bloc.

“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,” Mr Rooney said.

“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.”

According to information contained in the AACC report, Australia devotes less than half of what comparable countries do to aged care (1.2 per cent of GDP versus 2.5 per cent of GDP), while countries such as Denmark and Sweden devote around 4 per cent of GDP to aged care.

The report also highlights that around 16,000 vulnerable Australians died in 2017-18 while waiting for a government subsidised support package in their own home.

More than 4.1 million Australians, or almost 16 per cent of the population, are aged over 65. By 2057, that will rise to 8.8 million, or 22 per cent of the population, and by 2097 it will reach 12.8 million people, or one in four Australians.

“The challenges for aged care are only going to grow in coming years as the large baby boomer generation requires more support,” Ms Sparrow said.

Do you think the government should increase funding to the aged care sector? Do you think the government will increase funding to the aged care sector?

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