I rise to inform the House about some of the experiences of my constituents over the past months and weeks. There are some 25 million Australians—25 million people who go to school, work and live out their old age; 25 million people who have or will pay tax, contribute to their community and look after those around them—and there are some 25 million stories over the past weeks of people who haven't been able to find rapid antigen tests or who have had to overcome major obstacles to access a booster shot. In these 25 million stories there are some recurring themes. There are those who drove from pharmacy to pharmacy looking for a rapid antigen test amongst the deadly and dangerous shortage. There are the households who got struck down with COVID, and friends and family dropped supermarket bags at their doorsteps—or not. There are those who were sick but had to hesitate before going to hospital, knowing the system was already groaning and fatigued. There were those who had to call in sick to work, creating staff shortages and leading to empty supermarket shelves.
I want to tell you about some of the experiences my constituents told me about. A lovely man wrote to me about his experience with his 94-year-old grandmother in an aged-care facility in Northcote. The 94-year-old is very much alive. She is very vibrant. She has friendships with those around her. She looks forward to visitors. She looks forward to Christmas. She smiles with her eyes, wears cardigans and has the short curly grey hairstyle that represents grandmas right around Australia. The woman caught COVID in 2020, while 12 of her fellow residents sadly passed away in the outbreak. The 94-year-old has good fortune on her shoulder, and her family made sure she was vaccinated in early December at a local GP, as the aged-care facility could not confirm when any of the residents would have their booster. Luckily, she's healthy for her age and has a supportive village of advocates around her but, unluckily, her aged-care facility had another COVID outbreak a few weeks ago. As of mid-January, only 60 per cent of residents had received their booster vaccine. This is as omicron raged and ripped through aged-care facilities right across the nation. While omicron put her home into lockdown, she didn't have a shower for three days, despite asking for one. Her family had to purchase an air purifier for her room, as the facility had not been resourced by the government to improve ventilation. Her family told me she was stressed, lonely and struggling with her mental health.
This is one story of 25 million. The aged-care system is in crisis, and there are hundreds of thousands of stories that provide evidence to anyone who cares to listen.