Our 5-pillar plan for Aged Care

23 Aug 2021 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (11:30): I would just point out to the previous speaker, the Member for Dunkley, that it was, in fact, the current Prime Minister who, as one of his first acts in office, created the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety way back in September 2018. I suppose it doesn't surprise me, but it always disappoints me, to hear those opposite try to blame our government for everything, when, in fact, the serious issues that we see within aged care have existed for decades, and it's the responsibility of all of us to make sure that every single senior Australian is safe and gets the care that they deserve. That is precisely what the Prime Minister and our government have been working very hard towards, including that very important first step, which was establishing the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. We believe, and we know, that all Australians deserve an aged-care system that places their needs and their wellbeing at its centre. That's what the Morrison Liberal government is delivering on. We are doing this through record investment into Australia's aged-care sector and, of course, working towards the implementation of the recommendations of the royal commission.

In response to the final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the government is delivering a $17.7 billion package for once-in-a-generation reform of aged care, including measures aimed at improving aged care in rural and regional Australia. The reforms will provide better, fairer aged care and deliver respect, care and dignity for our senior Australians. Through the largest investment in aged care and the largest response to a royal commission in Australia's history, we are not only providing support for the sector but implementing measures which will provide greater transparency and certainty, which will empower the recipients of care.

Our five-pillar plan consists of home care, residential aged-care services and sustainability, residential aged-care quality and safety, workforce, and governance. This will deliver genuine change for senior Australians and those needing care. The government has mandated a number of changes to improve the transparency and comparability of home-care pricing information and has required all home-care providers to publish a standardised pricing schedule of common services and costs on the My Aged Care website, including their package management costs. Over time, this increased pricing transparency is also expected to drive out the system of unreasonable costs, as consumers will be able to change providers who charge prices that they do not consider reasonable. This
empowers recipients to vote with their feet, delivering greater freedom and choice and, of course, transparency. The Morrison government called for the royal commission and, at each step of the way through that process, we've sought to address the immediate priorities to improve the aged-care system. We understand the needs of the sector, particularly through the pandemic, which is why, in addition to our once-in-a-generation reforms to the sector, the Morrison Liberal government has invested $90 million to ensure residential aged-care providers remain financially sustainable and has provided funding to support workers and residential aged-care residents to be COVID-safe throughout the pandemic.

The staff within our aged-care sector have contributed so much to Australia's efforts in minimising the impacts of the coronavirus over the past 18 months. Through the outbreaks and necessary pandemic restrictions, their diligence and dedication in caring for our senior Australians and their families and loved ones has been simply inspiring. They have cared for our most vulnerable Australians with tremendous poise and grace, and have adapted to rapidly evolving conditions. I want to personally thank all staff within the sector for their professionalism, their commitment and their resilience throughout this period—the care providers, the nurses, the clinical staff, the doctors who operate on site, the physical therapists, the cleaners and the cooks as well, and the many volunteers who have worked so closely with the staff to make sure everyone gets the care they want. The work they have undertaken is absolutely extraordinary, and I've seen that outstanding care in my electorate of Boothby through the regular visits that I have made to so many wonderful homes.