20 September 2018

Speech in Parliament: Royal Commission into the aged care sector

I am delighted to report that people living in Corangamite and across the nation can have their say on the terms of reference for the royal commission that our government has proudly announced into the aged-care sector, through an online feedback tool. This royal commission will primarily look at the quality of care provided in residential and home aged care for senior Australians but will also include young people with disabilities living in residential aged-care settings. As the new Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, I’m obviously very pleased that people with a disability, young people living in residential aged care, are included in this royal commission.

As the Prime Minister has said, there are thousands of operators, facilities, care providers, nursing and other clinical staff, volunteers, cleaners, cooks and therapists in the Corangamite electorate and across the nation who are out there working hard to improve the lives of senior Australians every single day. We pay tribute to them and we say thank you.

However, we all know that, following intensified policing and inspections of the aged-care sector over the past year, information has come to light through the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and the Department of Health that makes the case for a royal commission into the sector compelling. The final terms of reference will be determined in consultation with the community, including residents and their families and aged-care providers.

On this particular note, I want to pay tribute to two women in my electorate, Kim and Honorine, both of whom are aged-care workers and have been great advocates for reform. They very strongly welcomed the royal commission on the front page of the Colac Herald just yesterday. It’s wonderful to see that support resonating throughout the community.

We’re expecting that the inquiry will cover the quality of care provided to older Australians and the extent of substandard care; the challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care; the challenge of supporting the increasing number of Australians suffering dementia and addressing their care needs as they age; the future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged-care services in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia; and any other matters that the royal commission considers necessary.

Local residents can have their say on the terms of reference via the Department of Health website, at consultations.health.gov.au, or they can write directly to Minister Hunt or Minister Wyatt. I commend as many residents as feel inclined to make that contribution into these important terms of reference.

20 September 2018