News

Politicians asked to reveal positions on aged care conditions

Tuesday 25th September, 2018

Queensland nurses have again called on state federal politicians to reveal their stance on aged care.

On September 14, the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) officially asked all federal Queensland politicians to publicly state whether they support improved conditions for elderly constituents.

Others concerned about aged care volunteered to sign the pledge earlier.

QNMU Secretary Beth Mohle said only 15 of the state’s sitting or prospective federal politicians had so far signed the QNMU’s aged care pledge to see federal staffing laws introduced in aged care.

The introduction of federal laws would force all aged care providers to safely staff their facilities.

“Elderly Queenslanders and Australians in aged care are experiencing premature death and unnecessary pain and suffering due to chronic and wide spread understaffing,’’ Ms Mohle said.

“It is only fair Queensland voters know where their federal representatives and candidates stand on conditions in aged care.

“Today we again call on Queensland’s federal politicians and candidates to publicly state whether or not they support the introduction of laws to protect their elderly constituents.’’

There are more than 400 private aged care facilities throughout Queensland. Nation-wide there are more than 2600 private aged care facilities. All are regulated by the federal government.

Currently there are no federal laws that state how these aged care facilities should be staffed. There are no minimum staff requirements and no requirement even one Registered Nurse (RN) be on site at an aged care facility at any time.

As a result, many aged care facilities staff their facilities however they see fit. In fact, it has become common practice for a number of aged care facilities to routinely leave residents without a Registered Nurse overnight, every night. This is not currently illegal.

Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has repeatedly stated there is no need for the safe staffing laws in aged care.

However, similar laws exist in child care and other Australian industries.

In 2017, the Palaszczuk Government publicly committed to introduce safe staffing minimums, or nurse to resident ratios, in Queensland’s 16 state-run aged care facilities.

Sitting politicians and candidates from all parties, as well as independents, have been asked to make their position on aged care public. To see if your federal member or candidates want change in aged care please visit https://bit.ly/ACpledges

The results will be distributed to the media and the state’s 59,000-plus nurses and midwives.

Politicians who have already signed on to support ratios in aged care are:

  • GRIFFITH: ALP Member of Parliament Terri Butler (25 May),
  • HERBERT: ALP Member of Parliament Cathy O’Toole (12 May),
  • LILLEY: ALP retiring Member of Parliament Wayne Swan (12 May),
  • LONGMAN: ALP Member of Parliament Susan Lamb (31 May),
  • MORETON: ALP Member of Parliament Graham Perrett (19 July),
  • OXLEY: ALP Member of Parliament Milton Dick (23 July).

QLD Senators: ALP Senator Anthony Chisolm (24 September) and ALP Senator ALP Claire Moore (25 September).

Qld Federal Candidates: 

  • BONNER: ALP candidate Jo Briskey (13 September),
  • CAPRICORNIA: ALP candidate Russell Robertson (17 September),
  • FLYNN: ALP candidate Zac Beers (11 September),
  • FORDE: ALP candidate Des Hardman (14 September),
  • HINKLER: ALP candidate Richard Pascoe (11 May),
  • PETRIE: ALP candidate Corrine Mulholland (17 September),
  • LILLEY: ALP candidate Anika Wells (12 May).

Ms Mohle said since 2009, the QNMU had made submissions to 29 federal, state and other agency aged care inquiries.

The federal government’s royal commission into aged care, announced on September 16 ahead of Four Corner’s report on aged care, will be the 30th investigation in nine years. Four Corners aired the second part of the investigation last night.

“The time for change is now because the problems in aged care have already been identified,’’ Ms Mohle said.

“While we welcome scrutiny of Australia’s aged care industry, elderly Australians will continue to suffer in the year or more it takes a royal commission to make its findings.

“I urge politicians who genuinely care to act.’’

Ms Mohle also called on aged care providers to make their rosters publicly available to paying residents and potential residents.

Australian aged care providers recently received more than $16 billion in federal taxpayer funds, yet they do not have to report how any of these funds were spent.

Providers also reported more than $1 billion in collective profits. They also receive around 80 per cent of resident pensions, or up to $800 per bed, per fortnight.

To join the campaign for change please visit www.morestaffforagedcare.com.au