Shame, shame, shame:  Hinch the only politician to stand up for those in aged care

MEDIA RELEASE:   12 September 2017

A coalition of grass roots aged care advocates representing thousands of concerned citizens said politicians that failed to support Senator Derryn Hinch’s private member’s bill calling for a mandated ratio of skilled staff to residents in all aged care facilities, should hang their heads in shame.

Action of Elderly Abuse Now group spokesperson Charli Maree Darragh, said it was little surprise to advocates that mainstream political parties were already trying to distance themselves from Senator Hinch’s worthwhile proposed changes to the Aged Care Act.

“This is typical of the lack of leadership in Australian politics,’ Ms Darragh said. “While not the panacea for all the ills affecting residential aged care in this country, Senator Hinch’s proposed changes are a significant and important first step and should be applauded and supported.”

“Yet, it took less than 48 hours from the tabling of the bill in the Senate, for both the mainstream and minor parties to start muddying the waters.”

Industry media reported on Friday that while there is broad acceptance of the workforce issues and support for change, the Australian Greens and the government said they would not back the bill while the Opposition and the Nick Xenophon Team did not offer a clear position.

“Typically, politics comes before aged care residents,” Ms Darragh said. “The opportunity was there for bi partisan support for a bill that would immediately make a difference to aged care residents.”

“Instead we get the government patting themselves on the back for the number of reviews they have taking place, and the opposition talking about the need for an evidence based approach. The evidence is already in, there are not enough nurses employed to care for our elderly in aged care.”

“While we note the NXT party is yet to consider their position and the Greens did rightly call on the government to implement the recommendations in the Senate inquiry into the Future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce, there is no reason why they could not have supported Senator Hinch’s bill to get much needed changes to nurse to patient rations happening now.”

The grass roots alliance said it was clear that Senator Hinch’s Justice Party was the only political party willing to stand up for immediate change to protect vulnerable Australians in aged care and the general lack of political will to fix the failing aged care system had increased the resolve of advocates to push for both a Royal Commission into aged care and running a marginal seat campaign at the next Federal election should calls for a Royal Commission go unheeded.”

“We’ve seen review after review take place for a number of years. Nothing changes. Only a Royal Commission will give aged care residents, families, relatives, aged carers, whistleblowers and nursing staff the opportunity to tell it like it is without fear or favour. Only then will we uncover the levels of abuse and poor care that is taking place and highlight what needs to change.”

The Action of Elderly Abuse Now alliance has support from close to 100,000 people who are either members of alliance partners or pledged support through petitions.