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Audit of Qld aged care fire safety compliance welcomed.

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Media Release

Senator Jan McLucas Labor Senator for Queensland Shadow Minister for Ageing, Disabilities and Carers

7 June 2006

Audit of Qld aged care fire safety compliance welcomed

Labor’s Federal Shadow Minister for Ageing, Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, today welcomed a decision by the Queensland Government to audit fire safety standards in the State’s federally funded nursing homes and aged care facilities.

“I understand Premier Peter Beattie’s frustrations at the lack of action by the Howard Government on this vital issue,” she said. “Many frail elderly people across the country have been put at risk by the unwillingness of the Federal Minister, Senator Santo Santoro, to act against unco-operative aged care providers so that they comply with standards that the community expects.

“It is no longer possible to rely on the Howard Government to ensure the safety of older Australians in aged care facilities, and I encourage other Premiers to audit facilities in their states.”

Senator McLucas said Senator Santoro had been forced to admit that about 400 aged care facilities had still not complied with the Government’s own standards. Of these, 20 had not even passed the most basic local government and state requirements, such as organising inspections of fire extinguishers.

The Howard Government has handed out over $500 million to aged care providers to meet the 1999 Fire Safety Standards, but many residents were still at risk despite the deadline for compliance passing six months ago.

“One hundred and seventy-four non-compliers are in Queensland,” Senator McLucas said. “That is 34% of the total number of facilities in the State. I cannot understand how Senator Santoro, a Queensland Senator, can allow this sorry situation to continue and I commend the Queensland

Government’s audit. It is high time Senator Santoro got off his hands and took an interest in the welfare of the aged.

“The Howard Government’s incompetence could well pose a serious danger to some aged care residents. The Minister must now indicate what he will do to make those aged care providers undertake the safety work they have been paid to do.

“The deadline passed five months ago, but instead of cracking down on providers dragging their heels, this incompetent Howard Government is giving them still more time.”

In Senate Estimates last week, the Department said some aged care providers would have until the end of 2007 to comply - a two year extension.

“In the meantime, what safety guarantees will the Howard Government give to aged care residents living without basic fire safety such as sprinklers, fire doors and other equipment?” Senator McLucas said.

"There is also a question of equity. Many facilities had to spend more than the money allocated to meet the standards, but now see other facilities being allowed to continue to delay.

“The Howard Government has comprehensively bungled aged care in Australia and let down residents and their families.

“This incompetent Government has had 10 long years to get aged care right, but has failed.”

To 19 May 2006, about 408 out of 2938 aged are facilities have not complied with the 1999 Fire Safety Standards:

State Total number of AC


Complied Not complied % Not complied

ACT 23 19 4 17%

NSW 931 824 107 11%

NT 16 9 7 43%

QLD 505 331 174 34%

SA 299 278 21 7%

TAS 91 87 4 4%

VIC 816 760 56 7%

WA 257 222 35 14%

AUSTRALIA 2938 2530 408 14%

Contact: Sen Jan McLucas 07 4031 6009 Mark Davis 0437-647-295