Budget 2020 failed to address urgent and life-threatening issues in aged care

The 2020 federal budget has failed to address the systemic problems in aged care that COVID-19 has tragically exposed, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“We have a chronically underfunded and poorly regulated aged care sector,” said ALA spokesperson, lawyer and aged care advocate, Ms Catherine Henry. “This sector needed funding in last night’s budget but it also needed a commitment to greater regulation to control the quality and safety of residential aged care.

“The budget was a missed opportunity for the government to get on the front foot, pre-empt the Royal Commission and start making critical investment in the sector now. Many of the changes needed are well understood. Before this Royal Commission, there have been 20 inquiries in as many years all pointing to the same issues.

“The aged care sector needs immediate government action. An extra 23,000 home care places are just not sufficient to address the very serious structural issues facing older Australians and their families.

“We know that relying on the private sector to ensure the quality and safety of aged care facilities has not worked. The sector needs investment that does not boost the profits of aged care providers but ensures staff ratios, greater transparency and increased regulation.

“Only last week the Royal Commission handed down a scathing report asserting the ineffectiveness of the response of governments and the aged care sectors to the pandemic. But the contents of the report, and indeed COVID-19’s tragic impact on people living in aged care and their families, is hardly surprising – given the systemic problems we know exist in the sector.

“As the Commission says, we must learn quickly from recent tragic deaths and suffering to prevent unnecessary deaths in the future. The federal budget was the opportunity for the Government to begin to take urgent action but it has disappointingly failed to do so.”

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