Socialist councillor says care work must not be privatised

Sue Bolton and Meghan Street.

Sue Bolton, the lead candidate for the Sue Bolton Moreland Team, said the COVID-19 pandemic had proven that the privatisation of care work leads to deadly results.

Bolton, who is seeking re-election for a third term in Moreland City Council, said that fighting for Moreland to retain its home care service is one of her priority commitments. “Councils’ home care service is on the chopping block for this next council term and not just in Moreland,” she told Green Left.

“This rotten plan is not being reported, for obvious reasons, but council-run home care services are at risk of being privatised because of an agreement with the federal government.

“Some councils have already voted to outsource their home care service.”

Bolton explained that as part of a 2012 deal between the federal and state governments and the local government association, in return for state government funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the federal government would fully outsource and privatise home care services along the lines of NDIS.

“The idea is that these important services end up like NDIS: a voucher-run ‘service’, with no actual funded service by any level of government,” Bolton said.

Bolton has consistently opposed any attempt to outsource Moreland’s home care service.

“We’ve seen problems with the NDIS model. COVID-19 has shown again just how bad the casualised model is because of the high prevalence of the virus in the privatised sectors.”

Not only that, the privatisation of services leads to lower standards of care and low pay and no job security for the majority of workers. These are reasons why COVID-19 has run rampant.

“Currently, the council-run service provides a stable workforce, with a reasonable income and union conditions. If the service is fully outsourced, people needing home care will receive a different carer every time, because the workforce will be casualised.

“This can make a big difference to the person needing the care, as well as those providing it. The carers will lose up to half their income and they will not be able to build up a rapport with people because they will be caring for a different person each time.

“That is the record of the NDIS: the workforce has been casualised and the pay cut for people who move from government services to NDIS services.

Pauline Galvin, socialist candidate for Moreland’s South Ward, agreed, saying: “It is important that council services be care-based, not profit-based. Once profit is brought into the equation, both the worker and the person receiving care miss out.

The Sue Bolton Moreland Team brings together progressive independent activists and members of the Socialist Alliance. Bolton is the common link, having been first elected in 2012 and joining in many community battles.

“We’d like to invite people who like our work and our perspectives to support us,” Bolton said.

“We are running candidates in every ward in Moreland: myself and Meghan Street in North East Ward, which covers the northern tip of Brunswick all the way up through Coburg to Fawkner; Pauline Galvin and Jacob Andrewartha are running in the South ward — Brunswick. And Monica Harte, an experienced public transport activist and now a union delegate and housing crisis worker, is standing for the team in the North-West Ward, which covers Glenroy and Pascoe Vale.”

Bolton said it was important to support socialists because “a stronger socialist presence in the community would benefit all sorts of community campaigns”.

Bolton hopes that her last two terms as a councillor have quashed “fears and misconceptions” about socialists.

“Socialists do have answers for the many problems we face, because most are driven by the market-driven system. Making decisions to enable small numbers of people to make more profit is what has brought us the aged-care and quarantine hotel disaster.

“A system which is geared to meet the community’s needs would benefit so many more people. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that the alternative is deadly, and a different way of running our society is doable. It has been left to communities to navigate on-the-ground support for vulnerable people in this crisis and, against the odds, they have shown what working people organising together can do.”

[Ballots are reaching post boxes now and voting starts on October 11 and ends October 22. Ballots can be hand-delivered to the Election Manager by 6pm on October 23. To find out more about the Sue Bolton Moreland Team campaign visit the website or Facebook page. Donations can be made here.]

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