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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News AM Agenda: 26 November 2019: Government's response to Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report

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SUBJECTS: Government’s response to Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality

and Safety interim report.

KIERAN GILBERT: Joining us is the Labor spokesperson for Ageing and this area more

generally, Julie Collins thanks so much for your time.


GILBERT: Your criticism is that not enough is going in, but the Government has said they

will potentially announce more, likely announce more in the Budget.

COLLINS: What they’ve said is they are not going to do anything until the final report in

November 2020, anything further which is November next year, it’s another 12 months

away. We currently have 120,000 older Australians waiting on the list for home care. The

Royal Commission said the first urgent action that the Government should do, in the

interim report, is to fund more home care and to fix home care. The Commissioners

actually called it ‘neglect’. 120,000 older Australians who have been assessed for care,

approved for care, who can’t get the care they need to stay at home. What we know is that

in one year 16,000 died waiting, in the same year 14,000 of them went into residential care

when they wanted to be home, and then we’ve got people going into emergency

department or not moving out hospitals because they can’t get the care they need.

ANNELISE NIELSEN: One of the issues that the Government has identified in moving too

quickly is that if they expand all these places they’re going to be filled by staff who might

not be properly trained and that’s a real risk for people who are receiving their care. Is that

not a concern?

COLLINS: The Government has been there for six years. It’s first Budget in 2014 what it

did was rip out $1.5 billion Labor had put into workforce strategy and supplement. They’ve

had a Workforce Taskforce report which they commissioned which has been on the

Minister’s desk now for more than a year. It had 14 actions in it. The author of that,

Professor John Pollaers, said in Royal Commission evidence that he is disappointed by the

Government’s lack of action when it comes to workforce. So for the Government to say, ‘oh

we haven’t done anything on workforce so we can’t have any more home care packages,’

it is their problem. It is their fault. They are in government, they have been there for 6

years, they’ve had 4 Ministers, they ripped billions of dollars out in their early budgets.

Then they called a Royal Commission and now they’re saying they can’t implement

anything because we haven’t done our job. It’s not ok.

GILBERT: When you talk about the number of people waiting for home care though, that

shortfall in terms of the workforce is huge, how do you get a sufficient number of people

trained up with the sorts of skills? It’s not just the skills, you have to be the kind of person

to be able to do this sort of care?

COLLINS: Absolutely you do. You can get a certificate 3 in aged care within six months.

The Government has had the Workforce Taskforce for more than a year. It has not

implemented any of the 14 actions, not even one in a whole year. I mean how slow is this

going to be? A 95 year old woman sitting on the home care waitlist doesn’t have 2 or 3

more years for the Government to get its act together. She is one of 120,000 people being

told she has to wait 22 months for her home care package. What the Government

announced yesterday does not mean she is going to get her package any sooner.

NIELSEN: What can the Government do now though that you think would help a woman

like that?

COLLINS: What I’m surprised about is that the Government hasn’t prioritised people who

are in their 90’s. It hasn’t prioritised people who have got a terminal illness given less than

three months to live. These people want to be at home with their family and their loved

ones. The Government should try and prioritise the national waitlist better than it is doing at

the moment. There’s also half a billion dollars sitting with providers of unspent funds. There

are people who are not spending their whole package. Surely we could better utilise that

money for people who have nothing, who have no home care whatsoever.

HOST: Do you think there should be a priority over the much vaunted surplus to get the


COLLINS: The Government’s got half a billion dollars sitting there in unspent funds on top

of what it announced yesterday. It’s got a queue that it could prioritise. It has a lot of

options available to it is what I’m saying Kieran. The Government could do a lot more than

it did yesterday and frankly I’m shocked. The whole sector, late yesterday and overnight

has come out and agrees with me. They’ve all said the Government hasn’t done enough

whether they be consumer advocates like Seniors Australia, Council on the Ageing or

whether it be the aged care providers, the peaks that are providing the home care - they

all think they Government didn’t do enough. This is just not Labor. Everybody is saying the

Government did not do enough.

NIELSEN: But just on Kieran’s point would it be worth compromising the surplus to fund


COLLINS: That’s a decision for the Government to make, not for me to make from

Opposition. But what I am saying is that the Government has a lot of options available to it.

When you’ve got older Australians in a first world country who are in their 90’s being told to

wait 22 months it’s not good enough and the Government needs to do much better than it

is doing on aged care.

HOST: And in terms of going back to conclude what we addressed earlier - but in terms of

that workforce shortfall - you said it’s a six month time frame to get it done but as we all

know it’s not the sort of job that every individual can do. How do you get the appropriate


COLLINS: We also have people working in aged care who have nothing more than a first

aid certificate who have only done six weeks …

GILBERT: They are wonderful people.

COLLINS: Yes, that’s right, that’s right.

GILBERT: It takes a huge generosity of spirit to be able to do it as well.

COLLINS: Absolutely, absolutely it does. But for the Government to use the workforce as

an excuse when it’s had the workforce taskforce report that it commissioned for more than

a year sitting on its desk I don’t think it’s good enough

GILBERT: Julie Collins we appreciate your time. We will talk to you soon.

COLLINS: Thank you.