The lack of sustainable funding and real reform for health and aged care shows that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has failed to ‘do his job’ to restore and rebuild Australia’s public health system and the private aged care sector, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a ‘once-in-a-century’ global health emergency, it has exposed many of the long-standing issues that prevent safe, quality care for all Australians. In our wealthy, well-resourced nation, every one of us should expect and receive optimal care and to achieve this, genuine reform of health and private aged care is urgently needed.
Despite modest funding for some preventative health initiatives and increased paid parental leave (PPL) provisions, the Budget has failed to deliver much-needed and genuine long-term reforms in health and private aged care.
Exhausted nurses, midwives and aged care workers, beyond the point of burn out, simply cannot continue without the resources they desperately need to do their job and keep the community safe and well. The Government has once again failed to do its job, compromising the health of all Australians.
Despite chronic staffing shortages, the devastation of COVID and the disgraceful lack of respect for older Australians, Mr Morrison’s Budget shows that playing politics, not fixing aged care, is his Government’s top priority. One year into the Government’s five-year ‘reform program’, the reality is, nothing has improved, in fact the situation has only become worse.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said tonight: “Yet again, Mr Morrison has failed to do his job. We’re disappointed that the Budget has let down our critical health and aged workforce.
“We all know that the failures in care for the elderly are not one-off, exceptional or occasional – they are widespread. We have all seen the heart breaking consequences of the Government’s continued inaction – it simply must not continue.
“The Government cannot ignore the plight of nursing home residents, nurses and care workers, by failing to implement the Royal Commission’s key recommendations – safe minimum staffing levels, increased wages for aged care workers and genuine accountability for taxpayers’ money.
“We ask Mr Morrison, how many preventable deaths do there need to be and how many dedicated nurses or aged care workers need to be driven from their jobs before he finally fixes chronic staffing shortages, causing so much pain and suffering in the country’s nursing homes?”
For real reform of health and aged care, the ANMF is calling on the Opposition, the Greens and Independents to work with stakeholders and commit to: an increase in funding for public health and maternity systems; fund and legislate mandated staffing ratios in private aged care; improve wages and conditions for the depleted aged care workforce; legislate clear transparency measures to ensure that taxpayer-funds for aged care providers are tied-to direct care; provide equal rights for working women, starting with eradicating the gender pay and superannuation gap and address the health impacts of the climate crisis in Australia and the Pacific Region.