To mark the one-year anniversary of the Royal Commission’s Final Report into the troubled aged care system, members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) are speaking out – expressing their heartbreak and disgust that Prime Minister Scott Morrison ‘hasn’t done his job’ to stop the suffering of elderly Australians living in aged care.
The two-year Inquiry, which contained over 10,000 submissions involving distressing evidence from overwhelmed nurses, carers, nursing home residents and their families, confirmed what the ANMF has known for far too long - that elderly Australians in privately-run aged care facilities were receiving sub-standard care because of dangerously-low staffing levels.
The Royal Commission recommended that staff ratios be introduced into aged care, but 12-months on and despite worsening staffing exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, Mr Morrison and his Ministers have done nothing to fix it.
Aged care nurses and care-workers are angry, frustrated and dismayed at the Government’s lack of action and are voicing their concerns in a series of national TV and radio commercials and a social media campaign, starting today.
In one TV ad, aged care nurse Samantha wipes away a tear as she says: ‘If you were to come into an aged care facility and see what I see every day you’d be heartbroken, you’d be disgusted and you’d want to make a change too. Because our residents deserve more. Our staff deserve more and change needs to happen.’
Another nurse, Irene, tells the Government: ‘What part of this don’t you get? You’ve had that many testimonies and people saying what’s going wrong in aged care. We’re saying it’s in crisis. Why aren’t you believing us? What are you going to do about it? I want a government that’s got some guts. That will take a stance on this; that will give us the resources we need.’
Today, nurses and carers will stage a series of protests outside the offices of Government Ministers and MPs, including the Devonport office of Richard Colbeck, the Minister responsible for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, whose lack of regard for older Australians was infamously laid bare by his choice to attend an Ashes test match instead of a Parliamentary Inquiry into the COVID outbreak sweeping through Australia’s nursing homes.
The ANMF will also participate in an online forum ‘Aged Care in Crisis: 12 months on from the Royal Commission – what needs to happen next?’, involving members of the aged care workforce and a panel of high-profile advocates and experts, discussing what it will take to ensure a quality aged care system.
Commenting on the day of action, ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said today: “Our nurses and carers are telling us they’re disgusted that Mr Morrison and his Government have done nothing to fix aged care. A year since the Royal Commission delivered its Final Report, with one of key recommendations for staffing ratios, nothing’s changed. There’s still not enough staff to give residents the basic care they need.
“While the Prime Minister, Health Minister and Aged Care Minister refuse to do their job, our members will not. Nurses and care-workers will not stand by and watch those in our care suffer any longer – the message is clear - no more talking, no more ‘taskforces’, no more ‘inquiries’, no more deferring responsibility – only action.
“We also know that the whole community now understands the state of the crisis in aged care.
We can and we must fix it now. We need a Government that will take responsibility for caring for older Australians and make staff ratios law. As our ANMF members say, we need a Government with guts.”
ANMF media release authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.
The ANMF, with over 310,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.
ANMF media contact: Richard Lenarduzzi on 0411 254390