Page electorate target of aged care reform campaign
Australia's aged care sector has united to demand big-picture reform follow the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety later this month, with the Page electorate a target for the campaign.
Launching the 'It's Time to Care About Aged Care' campaign, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration alliance will target key electorates where more than 800,000 older Australians live in an attempt to encourage the national parliament to address the sector's many challenges.
AACC representatives 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. If we were starting our aged care sector again from scratch we would not design it this way, so we're calling for significant overall reform."
Ms Sparrow said with 55.1 per cent of the population of the Page electorate 55 or older, it was one of the oldest electorates in the country.
Similarly, the Opposition's former Minister for Aged Care Justine Elliott holds the sixth 'oldest' electorate in Australia, Richmond, on the NSW north coast, with 51.4 per cent of voters aged over 55 years old.
"The campaign really is about trying to get everybody, the community generally and politicians of all persuasions talking about aged care industry reform, and Page has one of oldest electorates in the country so we're really hoping that MP Kevin Hogan will stand up and talk about and support an overhaul of the aged care system," Ms Sparrow said.
"The campaign will include direct contact with local MPs and meeting with them to talk about the need to advocate and support overall and significant reform, and not let this opportunity pass by to get the aged care sector right in this country."
More than 4.1 million Australians, or almost 16 per cent of the population, are currently 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.
AACC representative Sean 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'."