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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7675


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:10): I'd like to second this motion that the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 be read a second time. I will start by supporting the member for Mayo by reading a note from a constituent, Angela, who wrote: 'Over the past 13 years, chronic understaffing has had a huge increase in preventable deaths of elderly Australians in aged care, with people dying from falls, choking and suicide. They are our parents and grandparents, people who looked after us and loved us. But how many of them, especially those in need of high care, are left unfed, unwashed and even in soiled nappies for hours? Staff ratios in aged care must be legislated, as a matter of urgency, to protect the vulnerable, older nursing-home residents, who are the victims of Australia's crisis in aged care. In the absence of mandated ratios, dangerously low levels of nurse and carer staffing continue to put the lives of the elderly at risk. Hard-pressed nurses and care staff do the best they can in impossible circumstances, but they are run off their feet and can't provide the care they want to.' And Angela finishes with: 'This crisis in our aged-care system has been ignored for far too long. Now is the time to take action and pledge your support'—that's her request to me—'to legislate minimum nurse-to-resident ratios in aged care, to ensure our elderly get the care they need.'

So, with that sort of letter from my constituent, I'd like to bring to the House some statistics from my electorate. As you know, we have an annual budget survey, which took place in May. As a result of that survey, 9.2 per cent of survey respondents listed health and aged care as their most important issue, 30.7 per cent listed health and aged care as one of their top three issues and 79.4 per cent of respondents rated aged care and health care as very important. In my electorate of Indi, 22 per cent of residents are aged between 50 and 64, and 21 per cent are over 65. In my electorate of Indi, there are 44 aged-care facilities, and a huge issue is how we, as a small rural electorate, manage to provide the level of service we want in rural and regional Victoria.

Like the member for Mayo, I, too, would like to acknowledge the aged-care minister. Thank you for being here. You've also been to Mayo and Indi, and I know you've met with my boards of management and you've taken a particular interest in how we operate, and I know this is an issue dear to your heart.

But, in bringing this issue to the House today, I want to say: particularly for rural and regional Australia, one size doesn't fit all. We've got particular concerns in more isolated communities—say, for example, in Corryong, a small rural community two hours away from a major health service, that of Albury Wodonga Health. In that community, the multipurpose service provides so much: not only health care but also outreach, support for families, transport and social services that enable the community to continue to provide. It's never going to reach the same level of services of our cities, but it's a vitally important service to that community.

So I say to the minister and to your government: could you please look at this issue and support the call for an inquiry. Let's come out with some really solid, long-term, sustainable services to our communities. And, Minister, we'll back you in this effort and bring our communities with you. But also—I know the member for Mayo—huge understanding of public policy would be really helpful in this area.

The SPEAKER: The question is this bill be now read a second time. The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.