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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7888

Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (17:42): I rise today to speak on the private member's motion moved by the member for Bass, which relates to the long waiting times our elderly Australians have to endure before they can access the Home Care Packages Program and the failure of this government to fix this crisis. The latest blowout in waiting for home care packages is hurting our elderly Australians, especially the 16,312 Australians in my electorate over the age of 65. It is denying them urgent home care.

Our local ageing population in Calwell is made up of residents who are of Italian, Maltese, Greek, Turkish, Indian, Iraqi and Lebanese backgrounds to name a few. They are largely, but not totally, first-generation migrants of the post-Second World War era. They are Australians who need a culturally nuanced approach to aged care, one that responds to the expectations and aspirations of their strongly held family values, which involves them remaining amongst their children and extended families, who have also an integral role to play in caring for them in their old age. These older Australians want to remain and live out their final days in the home they built and raised their families in, with nursing home care or aged care as a last resort. That's why these home care packages are so important to my constituents, and being able to access them when they need them is absolutely crucial to their wellbeing. The onus is therefore on the government to do everything it can to enable my constituents to live out their years in the comfort of their own home, if they so choose. Their quality of life and wellbeing should never be compromised waiting for home care packages just because this government is not investing enough to keep up with the growing demand.

I know how many Australians over the age of 65 I have in my electorate but, unfortunately, I can't tell you how many are actually on the waiting list for home care packages. We know that the latest figures show that there are more than 100,000 older Australians waiting for home care packages, but the government won't provide us with any details of a breakdown of these figures by electorate. This is not good enough, nor is the government's assertion that the information is too difficult to glean, stating 'complex technical difficulties' being responsible. But this is important information and the public—as well as other members and I, as the local member—have a right to know just how many of our local constituents are on these waiting lists, especially given that this list appears to be growing at a very, very fast rate.

Data finally released last week by the Department of Health—data which incidentally was requested by the shadow minister for ageing—shows that in the March 2018 figures there are more than 108,000 older Australians waiting for home care packages. This includes 88,000 older Australians who have high needs—many of whom are suffering from dementia. Is it any wonder that the government tries so hard to delay the release of these figures? They also show that the waiting list for the home care packages has grown by almost 4,000 older Australians in just three months, meaning, of course, that the 3,500 new home care packages per annum that were committed in the budget will not come anywhere close to meeting the demand of Australia's ageing population.

There's no doubt about it: the Turnbull government has created an aged-care crisis in Australia. It's a crisis which has imposed more difficulties and pressures on our older Australians because, in addition to the anxiety of having to wait, our older Australians have to also experience this government's stubborn persistence in trying to axe the energy supplement for two million Australians, including around 400,000 aged pensioners. This will affect the 16,187 aged-care pensioners living in my electorate of Calwell.

Pensioners are already doing it tough. They're doing it tough, because they're struggling with the cost of living. They have to worry about their energy bills going up, and they have to face, especially in Melbourne— (Time expired)