MEDIA RELEASE: Morrison Government Warned that it's ‘Time to Stop Kicking the Can Down the Road’ on Aged Care Reform

22 February 2020

At yesterday’s hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, counsel assisting Peter Rozen QC slammed the Morrison Government’s inaction in fixing Australia’s broken aged care system declaring that it’s ‘time to stop kicking the can down the road’. 

Counsel assisting made recommendations for the Commission to consider for its final report on workforce issues including mandated minimum staffing numbers, appropriate skill mix and better pay, training and conditions for the aged care workforce.  

The Commission also heard recommendations that would increase the transparency and accountability of aged care funding, making providers publish their staffing numbers and skills mix. The Royal Commission will hand down its final report with recommendations in November. 

The Commission heard "the time is now" for real action, criticising the government for ignoring previous reports and recommendations which handed them a blueprint to fix the workforce issues. “These issues have been the subject of numerous inquiries and recommendations over the last two decades.”  

Peter Rozen QC drew specific attention to the work of John Pollaers’ Aged Care Workforce Strategy, delivered to the government more than a year ago. In evidence to the Royal Commission Professor Pollaers considered the government’s inaction in implementing the workforce strategy ‘profoundly disappointing’. 

Labor has been saying for a long time that fixing the workforce issues that plague the aged care system is crucial to delivering quality care in aged care facilities. 

Just last week in Anthony Albanese’s vision statement on ageing, he declared:   

Part of the answer to this crisis must lie in our aged care workforce. Those we trust to care for our most vulnerable, our parents, our grandparents, eventually ourselves
There are too few aged-care workers, and they are paid too little. They have begged the Government to do something. 

Labor is listening. 

Our aged care workers need proper pay and proper training.

The aged care workforce must also be able to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care.
Staffing numbers, qualifications, skills mix and experience, all affect the ability of aged care workers to provide safe, quality care.

Under a Labor Government, solving this will be one of the priority tasks for Jobs and Skills Australia.

As I outlined in my first Vision Statement, it will be tasked with strengthening workforce planning, particularly in the growing sectors of our economy like aged care. 

Labor knows our aged care system is in crisis. Our elderly cannot wait.

The measure of any society is how we treat our most vulnerable, and right now we are failing our elderly.