/ 26 February 2021

A big day for the aged care sector

The Royal Commission into the aged care sector’s quality and safety will hand its final report to the Governor-General today. Sparked by a string of horror stories of inadequate care, neglect and abuse in aged care homes, a newly minted PM Scott Morrison announced the inquiry in October 2018. Two-and-a-half years later, the 1.3 million Australians using aged care services and their families eagerly await answers about how the system will be made better.

The interim report put out by the Royal Commission at the end of 2019 already told us a lot. “This cruel and harmful system must be changed,” the report said as it highlighted widespread deficiencies for older people and younger people with disabilities who rely on the system for their care. Shockingly, it pointed to an “over-reliance” on chemical restraints, and last year the Commission said an estimated 50 sexual assaults occur each week in aged care homes. In total, the inquiry received 10,570 submissions and heard testimony from 641 witnesses. It also received 6,800 telephone calls from those using or working in the system. So this final report is expected to air some more harsh realities – like those exposed by ABC TV’s 7.30 last night.

We’re not going to get a look at the report today. Health Minister Greg Hunt says the report will be more than 1,000 pages with more than 100 recommendations. “We’ll review it carefully over the weekend. We will release the report and provide an interim response by the middle of next week,” he said yesterday. PM Scott Morrison added that the government was “determined and committed to address the serious issues in our aged care sector” and said aged care funding has risen under the Coalition from $13.3 billion in 2013 to $24.3 billion this year. Labor leader Anthony Albanese sees it another way, saying the Coalition has cut funding. Meanwhile, all those connected to the system will want is action…

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