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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1772

Mr WYATT (HasluckMinister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health) (10:49): I thank the member for his private member's motion. This is a complex issue in respect of the number of ageing Australians who are now reaching a point in their life at which care is needed. But in the past, as I have indicated previously, what families used to do when they were assessed and allocated a package was list their names with a number of providers—and a number of providers would often tell you that they had a waiting list of a significant number. In transitioning to the national list, it became important that we looked at the number of people requiring the different levels of packages, and the report, which the member opposite points out, wasn't released on the basis of a delay at all; it was looking at the integrity of the data to make sure that the information we had was correct and accurate, because it gave us the basis for considering what were the next steps required in the provision of care for older Australians. Certainly that also required a drilling down on the ratio levels that were introduced into the legislation under Living Longer Living Better. In looking at what the ACAT assessors were assessing, we've taken that into consideration as well.

The Turnbull government hasn't failed. It's working through a number of measures that will address the growing need. But I think this is a challenge for all governments in the future, whether on this side of the House or the other side. The baby boomer generation will reach 80 in another seven years time, and the numbers are significant. The release of home care packages encourages people to remain at home for as long as possible so that they remain independent and their mobility and way of life are built around family and being within their community and not isolated.

Our work on dementia builds on the work of the Rudd-Gillard government in recognising the importance of giving serious consideration to the needs of Australians who have been diagnosed with dementia. What we're seeing is a model of dementia programs and services that are community based. We see the incredible initiative in Tasmania, where there is now a community that will provide independent living within a community where they're not isolated. I see the use of technology, with which we are able to have people living at home and being provided with a level of care from a provider. Innovation in aged care is important, but I would still encourage people who are assessed at level 4, if they receive a lesser package than they anticipated and expected, still to take that package. It provides you with access to the levels of care that you need to remain independent and living in your home longer.

There are ways in which we also harness other resources. For any member in this chamber who brings to me issues relating to people within their electorates, I certainly work with my agency and key officers to look at how we use the range of aged-care services to enable people to have access, to ensure some certainty around their independence and also to ensure that they receive services that will meet their needs and provide for the health circumstances that they find themselves in.

Certainly there are instances where I'm advised of the progression of an illness. In one incident recently, a member in this chamber came to me about a couple where the husband was dying of liver cancer. We worked with his wife, who needed support as a carer because of the pressure, but we also made sure that there were other services wrapped around him in order to allow the journey that he was on to be lived with some degree of comfortability, and that included palliation.

We are working to look at how we progress what is required for the future. Aged care has always had a bipartisan approach, because both sides of this chamber recognise the incredible endeavours that senior Australians have put into building the nation that we have built. They are due recognition and support, and I will work to make sure that that happens. I certainly look forward to working in a bipartisan way on this issue.