aged care

About 500 members of the Health Services Union (HSU), United Voice, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and other unions gathered in Hyde Park on April 19 to "Rally for Respect: Time to Care for Aged Care."

Speakers represented the various health sector unions, as well as UnionsNSW, and Labor federal and state politicians.

Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government has cut billions of dollars from the aged care sector. This has had an enormous impact on the lives of older Australians in care, their families and those who care for them.

NSW Coalition MPs voted down a bill, 35 to 45, on May 11, that mandated registered nurses in residential aged care facilities. Labor, the Greens, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, as well as Independents Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper supported the bill.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association’s Brett Holmes said the government’s decision was “shameful” because not having skilled nurses in nursing homes would mean that the quality of care provided to some of the state’s most vulnerable would deteriorate.

Australia's age pension system is under attack from the federal government and right-wing, neoliberal forces. The whole community, current and future retirees, needs to mobilise to defend and extend the age pension system and change the superannuation system to more adequately meet the needs of working people.

The age pension in Australia dates back to 1909. It was established as a non-contributory scheme, largely as a result of the demands of unions and community pressure.

There is a perception in Australia that once people reach a certain age or become unable to care for themselves, the government will take care of them no matter their social or financial circumstances.

In Australia, the responsibility for funding and regulating residential aged care belongs to the Commonwealth. It is the federal government that sets the amount and distribution of residential aged-care funding across Australia.

Anyone with even superficial experience with how aged people are treated would be disgusted and outraged by the standards of most nursing homes, a result of neoliberal policies in Australia.

An investigation by ABC TV’s Lateline on July 15 found many elderly people living in aged care facilities are grossly neglected. Advocacy groups have called it “a national human rights emergency”.

The issue typically gets mentioned in the media only when a spectacle is involved, like a fire in a nursing home that costs lives.

Subscribe to aged care