Aged Care – Speech in the House of Representatives 01/08/23
Hansard 01/08/2023 House of Representatives
Mr LLEW O’BRIEN (Wide Bay) (16:24): Today, the Petrie Gardens aged-care facility at Tiaro will close its doors for the very last time. It is the 28th aged-care facility to close under Labor, and there will be many more. Labor’s rushed policy of having a 24/7 registered nurse requirement amid a workforce shortage crisis is directly responsible for the closure of Petrie Gardens and the elderly residents being forced out of their homes and community today. The Church of Christ’s 10-bed low-care facility at Tiaro has cared for the elderly for 28 years. It was awarded a perfect score for food quality. Today we lose this community asset forever, due to the Albanese Labor government having forced legal obligations on aged-care operators without considering the consequences.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended that 24/7 RNs be implemented in 2024 to allow time for the sector to prepare and recruit the required workforce. Instead, Labor pumped out a cheap social media slogan during the campaign that rushing 24/7 RNs was the right thing to do, with no analysis of how this would come to be done.
Internal health department findings forecast a shortfall of almost 40,000 nurses and care workers by 2024, and the department of aged care expects a shortfall of 85,000 nurses by 2025. Already, the sector is in crisis. As these centres close, beds dry up, waitlists blow out and vulnerable older people are left at risk in their homes or stuck in beds in public hospitals. Assessments to determine whether they qualify for a spot in aged care now have six-month wait lists.
The heavy hand of the government in forcing a burden of excess regulation is destroying regional aged care. Instead of making it easier to get nurses, the Albanese government has made it more difficult, changing the temporary skilled migration income threshold from $53,900 to $70,000. These changes mean that aged-care workers who would have been employed on an award rate no longer meet the criteria for entry into the country. This is at a time when the Albanese government is also planning its 1.5 million people immigration policy. We are on the path to a crisis, and Labor needs to take action now.