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Minister for Aged Care not backed up by Department.

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Minister For Aged Care Not Backed Up By Department Chris Evans - Shadow Minister for Family Services and the Aged

Media Statement - 22 November 2000

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Officers from the Department of Health and Aged Care today confirmed that there were extensive delays in the handling of complaints in relation to the 75 Thames St Hostel in Melbourne.

"The Department's evidence clearly refutes the denials of the Minister that there were no delays in the handling of the complaint," said Senator Chris Evans, Shadow Minister for the Aged.

"The extensive delays in the handling of this complaint raise serious issues over the effectiveness of the Government's aged care complaint scheme.

"The Department admitted to apologising to the complainant about these delays in a letter dated 12th April this year.

"When the complainant confirmed that they wanted to continue to pursue the complaint on 15th May this year the Department confirmed that no action was taken until 30th August.

"The only explanation offered for this delay was that the Standards Agency did not have the resources to conduct an inspection earlier.

"Even when an inspection was finally conducted, and serious risks to residents found, there were extensive delays before any action was taken.

"The Department admitted that it received notification of those risks on 1st September 2000. It took another six weeks before a follow-up visit to monitor the care of residents was scheduled. Sanctions on the facility were imposed on 13th October.

"Despite serious concerns about the care of residents in the facility, lodged in November 1999, it was not until the end of August in 2000 that the hostel was visited and serious risks identified.

"This evidence lends support to calls from the sector that an independent inquiry into the Government's flawed complaint system is urgently needed if the rights of residents are to be protected."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.