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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 5000

Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (19:51): I rise to speak on this motion because the care of senior Australians is of vital importance to our nation's future and equally to the aspect of reform being real and meaningful. Elements of a reform that does not encompass what is included in the Productivity Commission report are problematic. I have met some of the providers and people who access healthcare and all of them have raised issues with me. We know that every 71 minutes another older Australians is denied access to the care that they need, and care for aged varies according to geographic location, access to services that are viable, access to services that provide for the context of living in care or living within their homes. If the workforce is not supported, 279,000 Australians will be denied care by 2050. So reform has to be forward-thinking and project into the future as to the level of need that is required.

I notice that the member for Shortland's motion talks about the positive reform agenda for older Australians and that the government is delivering on this commitment. But sometimes commitment has to be tangible and real in all facets of what is needed by those who are reaching the age of retirement or whose health needs force them into aged-care facilities. In talking with people within the service delivery sector there is a view that we will be $90 million short between income and the real cost of care for those in residential facilities and that 83,000 new beds are needed to be built within the next nine years, at an estimated $17 billion. So there are some challenges in claiming that the reform has gone sufficiently far enough to address the needs of our elderly Australians and those who work in the area as well.

It was interesting looking at the leading aged services. What they indicated in one of their publications is that there are three million Australians aged 65 and over, there are close to 1,000,000 Australians receiving Home and Community Care, there are around 170,000 Australians living in residential aged-care facilities, there are 1.3 million family carers of older Australians and there are 300,000 people who are aged-care workers.

If that is not meeting our needs this year, and we have not done sufficient reform based on the Productivity Commission report, then the matter will be exacerbated over the forthcoming years, particularly when you consider that the tax base will go from six workers for every retiree, to 3.2 workers for every retiree by 2047, which will leave us with an incredible shortfall.

When reforming we have to think outside the square. We have to consider a range of options and considerations in the delivery of services. Sometimes we stay with models of reform processes that are comfortable instead of looking at how we can become much more creative and innovative. How do we empower the elderly and give them some options that are tangible and which meet their needs?

Within my own electorate if you are in the area of Kalamunda-Lesmurdie and you require aged care services you either have to go to Joondalup or to Gosnells, which are significantly far enough away to be problematic for those who use public transport. Reform has to be real and we have to consider seriously how we do that with a bipartisan approach as opposed to taking a political approach that meets short-term agendas that sound as though they are achieving the results that are sought—the information and approach taken by the current government.

I think it is important that any future reform around aged care services is real and includes the industry. Certainly the guidelines, as espoused in the recent debate on aged care services, need to be transparent so that the industry can respond. The issues in aged care services in Australia are real and challenging, and there is work to be done.