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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3772


Mr SWAN (Lilley) (10:13): Senior Australians who have worked hard all their lives to make our country great are being neglected by the Turnbull government. The government are holding older Australians in a vice grip. On one side, they've slashed funding for aged-care facilities, ripping out $1.2 billion in the 2016 budget. On the other side, they've fallen pathetically short in funding in-home care. While more than 100,000 older Australians languish in the queue for in-home care packages, this government only found funds for a pitiful 3,500 packages in the budget. Just last Sunday, the Minister for Health and Aged Care said: 'It's going to be a very good budget for health and for aged care in particular.' If the government consider their budget a very good one for aged care, I'd really hate to see a bad one.

But, of course, this is a bad budget for aged care and older Australians. It does nothing to address the crisis in aged care which we are seeing playing out in aged-care facilities across the country, and these matters will be revisited before the next budget, because the crisis is acute. Basic elements of care, including showering, brushing teeth and providing food and water to senior Australians, are being neglected and missed more and more frequently. Aged-care providers have cut staff numbers so deeply that it's not uncommon for one registered nurse to be allocated to up to 200 elderly residents. Understaffing means that rather than receiving four or more hours of nursing a day our most vulnerable older Australians are losing one-third of this crucial time needed for showering, toileting and being medicated, dressed, fed and more. Vital care has been missed, which has real and sometimes fatal consequences.

I understand that moving into an aged-care facility can be an emotional and stressful time. That's why it's vital that we as legislators work to make aged care decent and comfortable for older Australians. This begins with legislating minimum staffing requirements and adequate skill mixes in aged-care facilities, and for in-home care it means providing enough aged-care packages to meet the demand of older Australians—not the pathetic package that this government has put forward in this pathetic budget. We must loosen the vice grip that the government has tightened around older Australians. They deserve better.

And, on indulgence, I note that today is 25 years since my first speech in this building. In this constituency statement I would like to thank each and every one of my electors, who have supported me for a long period of time. Twenty-five years ago I promised to work hard, to listen to their views and to strongly represent their interests in this place. I hope I've gone some way towards honouring that promise for the people of Lilley, and I thank them for their trust and for their support.