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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7889

Ms KEAY (Braddon) (17:47): I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this very important issue, an issue that is not niche; it is not reserved for those with status or wealth. This is the inevitable process of ageing. I speak of those in our society who have been lucky enough to live to a ripe old age. But, in 2018, how lucky are our elderly in this country?

Over the past five years, the coalition government has slashed billions of dollars from aged care. This government is responsible for the blowout in aged-care waiting lists, and this blowout is causing terrible consequences for older Australians and their families. One such example is demonstrated in an email I received from the daughter of Terrence, who lives in Ulverstone in my electorate:

Hi Justine

We are at our wits end and don't know who to contact next.

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's 8 years ago and sadly has been given a terminal diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia.

Dad has been assessed for a level 4 Home Care Package and has been waiting in the system for over twelve months.

My mother is his 24/7 sole carer.

Dad has been receiving an emergency level 2 Home Care Package for the last year.

This provides three twenty-minute showers a week. Two hours of respite care on a Monday and a Wednesday.

I have made numerous calls to My Aged Care and the only response I receive is, 'He's on a priority list but it will be another twelve month wait.'

Things are now at a crisis point. My father and mother live alone in Ulverstone.

I live on the Gold Coast and travel back and forth to help when I can.

Sadly on Thursday, I received a call from my parents' neighbour saying she'd popped in to check on mum and dad, as she does each morning.

She found my mother lying on the floor sobbing, saying she just can't keep going on like this.

I have brought them to Queensland to stay with me, but they can't stay forever.

I've hired lift chairs, toilet frames, shower chairs just to get us by.

We have found a carer up here to give mum some respite, but at a cost of $30 per hour, and Dad is still not in his own home.

Dad requires 24/7 care.

He cannot feed, dress, shower, get out of a chair, or get out of bed without assistance. He can't even sit on a toilet by himself.

He is solely reliant on my mother for his everyday living.

My mother doesn't want to put him into a nursing facility as they both want to stay at home together.

Dad just wants to live what's left of his life in his own home.

When will his level 4 package be approved by the government? When it's too late?

I don't know where to turn next or what to do. I would give anything to see the both of them able to live the rest of the t ime they have together with the help and support they deserve .

A local provider has told me Terrence is one of 3,000 waiting for an aged-care package in Tasmania. This list continues to grow nationwide, and still this government continues to sit on its hands, refusing to come clean on when the 14,000 extra packages announced in the budget will be released. Even that announcement was smoke and mirrors with money being cut from one area of aged care to fund another.

When will this government provide older Australians with the adequate care they need and deserve to live with dignity in their own home? Rather than give the banks a $17 billion taxpayer funded handout, why doesn't this government prioritise aged care? This government thought it could pull the wool over our eyes by delaying the release of data with the distraction of five by-elections. I call on this government to stop treating our elderly with contempt and immediately commit to releasing the June quarter data when it's due later this month.

An elected Labor government will not ignore this aged-care crisis or our elderly, and an elected Labor government will make aged care a national priority. I call on the Turnbull government to do the same.