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Santoro to go to Cabinet with aged care reform proposals.



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Senator the Hon Santo Santoro Minister for Ageing

MEDIA RELEASE

14 March 2006 SS 25/06

Santoro to go to Cabinet with aged care reform proposals

The Federal Minister for Ageing, Senator Santo Santoro, will take a submission to Federal Cabinet outlining measures to help eliminate the abuse of the elderly within Australia’s aged care facilities.

“I have been invited by the Prime Minister to go to Cabinet as soon as possible with a submission in relation to the issue, and provide recommendations as to how the abuse of elderly people within our aged care facilities can be prevented,” Senator Santoro said.

In making the announcement, Senator Santoro expressed his appreciation for the advice he received from members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Aged Care.

“In fact I have been very encouraged by the support within the industry for measures which will help prevent the rare instances of sexual abuse which have been the subject of recent public concern.

“It is my intention to now immediately write to my state colleagues asking them to meet with me and to give me their views as to how we can move forward with some of the important suggestions that have been put to me by the stakeholders.

“This is an essential step in the implementation of improvements to the safety aspects of our aged care system. Many of the suggestions for reform cannot be implemented by the Commonwealth Government without the support of State Governments.”

The members of the Advisory Committee (attendance list attached) expressed general support for the following initiatives:

• A uniform system of police checks for workers in the aged care industry; • An increase in unannounced spot checks for aged care facilities; • A review of the current Complaints Resolution Scheme; • And enhanced training for all aged care staff in relation to knowledge and awareness

of abuse of the elderly and how to deal with complaints.

“On the issue of mandatory reporting, the membership of the committee was significantly divided. Some members of the committee requested additional research and information in relation to the effectiveness of mandatory reporting schemes in overseas jurisdictions.”

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Senator Santoro thanked stakeholders in the aged care sector for the positive and enthusiastic way they had engaged in the consultation process on the abuse issue.

“I have received many submissions from carers, relatives, advocacy groups, providers and other professionals within the aged care industry. I have also spoken with a number of residents.

“I reiterate my belief that the vast majority of aged care facilities within Australia are safe places for our elderly citizens to be in.

“They are run by dedicated and compassionate individuals who regard their duty of care towards the elderly as sacrosanct.

“I have the highest of regard for this group of professionals who dedicate their lives to looking after those who need their care.”

Media contact: Malcolm Cole 0408 612 603

Aged Care Advisory Committee 14 March 2006 meeting attendance

1 Mr David Deans Council on the Ageing (COTA) National Seniors 2 Dr Susan Koch Royal College of Nursing Australia 3 Mr Richard Gray Catholic Health Australia 4 Ms Joan Hughes Carers Australia

5 Mr Ken Ridge Baptist Community Services (Proxy) 6 Dr Jeff Rowland Australian Society for Geriatric Medicine 7 Ms Betty Johnson AO Older Women’s Network 8 Ms Victoria Gilmore Australian Nursing Federation (Proxy) 9 Dr Brendan Kay The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners 10 Ms Pat Sparrow Aged and Community Services Australia (Proxy) 11 Mr Glenn Rees Alzheimer’s Australia

12 Mrs Elizabeth Orr UnitingCare Australia 13 Mr Rod Young Aged Care Association Australia 14 Mr Grant Martin Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (Proxy) 15 Dr Peter Ford Australian Medical Association (Proxy) 16 Ms Jeanette Ricketts Department of Veterans’ Affairs (Proxy) 17 Ms Sandra Hills Brotherhood of St Laurence 18 Mr Mark Brandon Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Ltd 19 Ms Shirley Bains Australian Pensioners and Superannuants 20 Mr Neil Tucker COTA Over Fifties Alliance

Other invitees

21 The Hon Rob Knowles Commissioner for Complaints

Suite M 1.46 • Parliament House • Canberra ACT 2600 • Tel: (02) 6277 7280 • Fax: (02) 6273 4138 www.health.gov.au/minist.htm --- www.seniors.gov.au