Moreland socialist councillors: ‘Councils must not abandon the elderly’

Councillor Sue Bolton convinced Moreland City Council to maintain its in home aged care. Photo: Moreland City Council/Facebook

Moreland City Councillors Sue Bolton and Monica Harte are calling on the federal government and councils not to privatise their home-care service.

They say councils must not abandon thousands of elderly people, saying it is a scandal that Booroondara Council and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council have done this by privatising their home-care service.

Aged-care giants Mecwacare and Bolton Clarke, which won the contracts, are not providing staff, which means thousands of residents have been left without care.

Twenty-three Victorian councils have already, or are intending to, privatise their aged-care service since the federal government changed its funding model from delivering a set amount of funding to council to a consumer-directed model delivered through Home Care packages.

Bolton managed to win Moreland City Council over last year and it will continue to provide in-home aged care. She told Green Left that council had to become a Home Care package provider to retain its in-home aged care service.

“Councils have permanent employees and that means a council-run service for the elderly helps them build a rapport with their home-care worker.

“By contrast, private providers have a high turnover of inexperienced, unqualified and poorly-paid workers.”

Harte, a former aged-care worker, told GL that council home-care workers are “highly trained, with a requirement for a Certificate 3”. She said that private home care providers “don’t require such high qualifications”.

Harte said the privatisation of council-run services will lead to a 30% pay cut for home-care workers. “Many experienced council home-care workers will be forced to look for other work because they won’t be able to make ends meet.”

Accessing home care through a local council is simple and quick, Harte said. The person or their family only needs to phone or email the local council and an assessment is done within a few days.

The federal Coalition government had been planning to privatise the in-home aged care system by abolishing block funding to councils to push them into privatising their services.

Bolton said the Labor government should have “learned from the crisis in aged care homes during the pandemic” and abandon the Coalition’s market-based system.

“Labor should guarantee local councils can access block funding indefinitely so they can maintain the high quality council-run home-care services.”