LETTER TO THE EDITOR, ECHO NEWSPAPERS

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, ECHO NEWSPAPERS

In response to Senator Glenn Sterle’s comments (Letters, 29/9), I want to assure all senior Australians and their families that - while the Royal Commission into aged care goes about its critical work - our Government is continuing at full pace with unprecedented aged care reforms and quality enforcement.

Immediately after South Australia’s Oakden tragedy was fully revealed last year, we commissioned the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes.

We have actioned the Review’s 10 recommendations, including unannounced quality audits and creating the tough new cop on the beat – the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission - which will be up and running on 1 January, with a budget of more than $300 million to guard aged care standards.

We have worked through the 2017 Legislated Review of Aged Care, and responded in the 2018 Budget with the More Choices for a Longer Life package.

This supports active ageing, providing an extra $1.6 billion to help grow home care packages from 87,000 to 151,000. There has also been a record allocation of more than 14,000 new residential places this year, including over 3,300 for Western Australia.

We have legislated for new Aged Care Quality Standards, the first upgrade in 20 years, and just released Australia’s first aged care workforce strategy – to rapidly grow the professional care workforce.

Funding has grown, on average, $1 billion a year since the Government took office 2013, and in the recent Budget we allocated a record $5 billion boost for aged care.

Recently, I also announced an injection of $106 million for better facilities, better care and better standards in aged care, plus $100 million to expand home care support.

Our Government also continues to fund advocacy services for senior Australians and address elder abuse in aged care with $31.7 million to be provided to the Older Persons Advocacy Network through to 2020.

So, while the Royal Commission is vital, our unparalleled aged care reforms will continue.

We welcome Labor’s support for the Royal Commission but I remind Senator Sterle that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten twice declined to back a Royal Commission, when asked in June this year.

Ken Wyatt AM

Member for Hasluck

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care