Aged Care

11 Feb 2020 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (19:54): The electorate of Boothby is home to a large and active group of retirees and seniors. In fact, our local community has one of the highest numbers of over 65s Australia wide. These residents make a very important contribution to our area and underpin so many volunteer groups, like our CFS, surf lifesaving clubs, veterans organisations, service clubs like Rotary and Lions, Probus clubs, residents associations, historical societies and so many other sporting groups and community groups. I'm grateful to all the wonderful volunteers I work closely with each and every year. I'm also grateful to individuals like Bernie, Maxwell, Anne, Lorraine, Valerie, Carolyn, Bruce, Christine and Danny, Mike and Ella, Wendy, Klaus, and Val, who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to talk to me about how we can work together to best care for our senior Australians. Some of these people came to see me after my very popular seniors forums and I look forward to hearing from many more of my community when we hold the next one, later this year.

Australians are now living on average 10 years longer than they were 50 years ago. While the increased life expectancy signifies the progress we have made in health and improving our living standards, it also presents significant challenges. In my home state of South Australia, we note too well the devastating and shameful impacts of elder abuse, like we saw at the Oakden aged-care facility under the former state Labor government. We know the tragic impact on patients and their families and we know this because of the fearless work of people like Stewart Johnston, Alma Krecu and my local residents Barbara and Clive Spriggs, who fought for justice for their loved ones. Each and every single person in this place has a responsibility to ensure we never see an Oakden ever again.

There is nothing more important than caring for our most vulnerable citizens, which is why the Morrison government established the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in January 2019—to make
sure we get our care for our senior Australians right. The hearings have considered the key features of the aged care system and provide a platform for concerned aged-care residents, their families and advocates to be heard.

The commission will be holding a hearing in Adelaide on 21 February. To date, the Morrison government has responded to the royal commission's interim report with a $537 million
funding package, which includes $496.3 million for an additional 10,000 home care packages, $25.5 million to improve medication management programs to reduce the use of medication as a chemical restraint, and $4.7 million to help meet new targets to remove younger people with disabilities from residential aged care. This is just part of what our government is delivering, with record investment across the aged-care system, from $13.3 billion in 2012-13 growing to $21.4 billion in 2019-20 and up to an estimated $25.4 billion in 2022-23.

In my local community, the Morrison and Marshall Liberal governments are also reactivating the repat hospital site that the previous state Labor government, stupidly and cruelly, shut down. A key focus of the revitalised repat hospital is to deliver health services to support older Australians and cater for the complex needs of people with dementia. Late last year we announced a landmark partnership with nationally respected aged-care provider HammondCare to deliver an innovative cottage-like home environment at the revitalised repat hospital for people with dementia. We are very much looking forward to working with HammondCare chief executive Dr Stephen Judd and his team on this Australia-first project, which will deliver a 78-bed dementia care home, including two nine-bed specialist dementia care units and four cottages with a total of 60 beds, a new 18-bed neurobehavioural unit to support people with the most extreme behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, a 12-bed specialist advanced dementia care unit and a 26-bed care transition facility for people with dementia. The repat hospital was historically a place where veterans and members of our community felt safe and loved and received the very best care, and that is what we will work to deliver once again.

I am so proud to be part of a government that is implementing significant investments in aged care, so that we can best look after our senior Australians when they most need our support. As policymakers, our duty is to listen and to act to ensure that our senior Australians have access to high-quality services and care that suits their individual needs.