Canberra Report - Aged Care Always A Priority - Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Canberra Report - Aged Care Always A Priority - Wednesday, 10 February 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

10 February 2021

Aged care continues to be top of the list

Each week hundreds of people email, call or write to my Canberra and Cessnock offices. They keep me and my team busy.  The contacts come from all over Australia.  Some call just to agree or disagree with something I’ve said. 

Some who disagree with my views do so with an unwelcome degree of hostility.  They are usually from one of our capital cities.  One Melbourne woman recently told my staffer that “there are hardly any coal jobs in Singleton anymore.”  This was news to me!             

But it’s the local calls we spend our time acting on.  People reach-out for help on a wide range of issues including social security, taxation, immigration, and health.  But the most common reasons for contact continue to be COVID-19 related, but aged care and people trying to return home remain most prevalent.

Our aged care system was broken well before the COVID-19 raised its ugly head, that’s why we’ve been having a Royal Commission.  But COVID-19 has further underlined the systemic problems.  Locally our providers do a good job.  Thankfully I don’t encounter many problems which are the result of their failure to live up the standards we expect.  Rather, it’s the system and lack of government resourcing that lets down both them and their residents

Looking after those who have made such a valuable contribution to our country and community should be amongst the Government’s highest priorities.  Families are entitled to expect no less.   

And how frustrating it is for both those trying to return home to Australia and their families.  It’s now more than twelve months since COVID-19 first emerged and the Government has had plenty of time to clear the backlog.  The greatest barrier is quarantine capacity on return, and while I accept it’s been a big job, the effort has fallen short.

There is plenty of scope to quickly deploy regional facilities as we did here in 1999 when the Kosovars came to Singleton.  Surely, we can find places in regional Australia to do the same for our own.