Aged care industry calls for urgent action from new minister

Industry bodies call for action to improve quality, accessibility and sustainability of services across sector.

The aged care industry has called for urgent action from the newly announced Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his new ministry this week, with Colbeck replacing former Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt, who will become the first Indigenous Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

Colbeck, who has also been appointed Minister for Youth and Sport, said it is an important time in these portfolios, particularly with the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety underway.

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said urgent action must focus on the fundamentals that will drive improvement in the quality, accessibility and sustainability of age services across the sector.

“Minister Colbeck brings to the role fresh eyes along with a wide breadth of professional and parliamentary experiences at a critical time for Australia’s aged care system.”

Rooney said the industry is looking to Colbeck and Morrison to address residential aged care funding, invest in workforce growth and development and develop a comprehensive national ageing well strategy.

Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO Patricia Sparrow said the non-profit aged care sector is looking forward to furthering its relationship with the government and with the new minister.

“There is reason to feel optimistic about what can be achieved through the big national conversation we are now having about ageing and aged care.

“What we really need is a better plan for our own ageing and for the ageing population. We are delivering our incoming government brief to the new minister and are committing to engaging constructively to come up with this long term plan.”

National Seniors said action is needed now, with an interim report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety not due until October, and the final report in April 2020.

National Seniors’ chief advocate, Ian Henschke, said a new cabinet, new Minister for Seniors, and a new Labor leadership provided the opportunity for government and opposition to demonstrate the leadership Australians need and expect.

“Critical issues in aged care have already been exposed by the Royal Commission – at this point, all parties should get on with the job of fixing them immediately.”

COTA Australia CEO Ian Yates said planning for an ageing population needed to be a national priority.

“Our ageing population also presents challenges for our aged care, health care and retirement incomes systems that can and must be planned for in a coordinated manner across all portfolios,”  Yates said.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established in October 2018. The Commissioners are required to provide an interim report by 31 October 2019, and a final report by 30 April 2020.

The next hearings will be held in Western Australia on 17 June in Broome for three days, followed by one-week of hearings in Perth.

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