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Royal Commission must fix understaffing

Royal Commission must fix understaffing

Shadow Assistant Minister for Aged Care Ged Kearney, ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick and Federal ANMF Secretary Annie Butler with an aged care nurse at last year's aged care ratio law campaign launch in Moonee Ponds.

The re-election of the Morrison Government means nurses, carers and residents may have to wait for the aged care royal commission recommendations to acknowledge and address understaffing.

The federal ANMF ‘Ratios for aged care. Make them law. Now.’ campaign had secured pledges of support for nursing home nurse/carer-to-resident ratio legislation from Labor, Greens and independent politicians. This included new Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. No Liberal or Nationals members or candidates supported minimum staffing law.

In his response to ANMF’s request for support, former federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt reiterated the existing Aged Care Act 1997 already had a requirement for ‘adequate’ staff numbers in nursing homes.

The law does not define ‘adequate’, nor can it be enforced.

ANMF has called on the Morrison Government’s new Aged Care and Senior Australians Minister, Richard Colbeck, to start fixing the crisis in aged care as a matter of urgency.

ANMF will continue to seek key reforms that include:

  • mandated safe staffing levels and skill mixes
  • a mechanism to tie funding to the provision of care
  • improved wages for nurses and care-workers in aged care.

Federal ANMF Secretary Annie Butler said: ‘The new Minister cannot ignore the feedback about understaffing from our members working in aged care, or the residents and their families who have already provided their harrowing stories of abuse and neglect to the royal commission. He must act now.’

ANMF will also work with former ANMF Federal Secretary Ged Kearney in her new role as Shadow Assistant Minister for Aged Care. Ms Kearney, who also pledged support for aged care ratio law, was re-elected, significantly increasing her margin, in her electorate of Cooper. She has also previously held the position of ANMF (Vic Branch) president.

Ms Kearney will be working with Shadow Minister for Aged Care Julie Collins, who retains the portfolio.

The newly elected member for Indi, ANMF member Helen Haines, also a supporter of aged care ratio legislation, will be another important voice for aged care nurses, carers and residents in the new federal parliament.