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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1644


Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (13:52): On 15 December last year, I co-hosted a Conversation on Ageing forum at the Cockburn Senior Citizens Centre in my electorate of Fremantle. These forums have provided important opportunities over the last six months for older Australians, their families and carers across the country to discuss the Productivity Commission's report entitled Caring for older Australians and to share in a national conversation about how we can reform our aged-care system so that it is simpler, fairer, more affordable and equitable—a matter which obviously affects us all.

I would like to commend the work of the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing and his department and that of the National Aged Care Alliance, which brought together for the first time all of the stakeholders—some 28 national organisations including consumer groups, aged-care providers, unions and professionals—to advocate the need for urgent reform of the aged-care system.

I recently met with aged-care workers from the United Voice and Health Services unions, who spoke to me about the challenges they face working in a sector that is severely underfunded and about the roll-on effects this has on their ability to do their jobs and the way in which residents are cared for. They are calling for increased funding for wages and conditions and improved recruitment and retention strategies.

I also met with Stephen Kobelke, the CEO of Aged and Community Services WA, the leading representative body for the not-for-profit aged and community care sector in WA. Mr Kobelke described to me the challenges that WA in particular is facing in aged care, exacerbated by the pull of the mining and resources sector on potential aged-care and community sector workers. All Australians deserve an aged-care sector that meets community needs. (Time expired)