01 December 2020

Morrison Government’s response to COVID deaths in aged care is tokenistic



The Morrison Government’s announcement on Monday that it accepts all of the Royal Commission’s recommendations is a welcome step in the right direction. But aged care providers say the funding allocated falls short of what is needed. 

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck’s continued denial of responsibility over the 685 deaths in aged care during COVID indicates he does not think it’s the Morrison Government’s responsibility to take meaningful action to keep our loved ones safe. Proper reform is still a long way away.

Wendy’s mother is at an aged care facility in regional Victoria. When two of the centre’s staff contracted COVID, residents were forced to isolate in their rooms for six weeks. Deprived of human contact, stimulation and entertainment, many suffered drastic declines in their mental health which, in many cases, continue to this day.

Now Wendy is speaking out — not to point the finger at the hardworking staff in her mother’s facility, but to raise awareness of the desperate state of our aged care system, and call on Minister Colbeck and the federal government to act on the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

GetUp Human Rights Campaigner Tessa Pang said:

“Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck’s response to the Commission’s Covid Report is tokenistic. Accepting all of the Royal Commission’s recommendations is a welcome step in the right direction but the funding increases fall woefully short of being able to actually implement the recommendations. 

“Last month, more than 8,000 GetUp members emailed Richard Colbeck and the Government urging them to adopt the Royal Commission’s recommendations in full. Colbeck’s response on Monday night shows he’s feeling that pressure. 

“Years of privatisation and failing to take responsibility for aged care means the Morrison Government has little oversight over what actually goes on in aged care homes. By placing the care of our loved ones in the hands of profit-driven companies, they’ve deprived our elderly of dignified care and staff of adequate support. In short, they’re costing lives.

“The Morrison Government can and should be doing better by our parents, grandparents and loved ones in aged care.”

Wendy, daughter of an aged care resident in regional Victoria, said:

“My mother is in a very well run facility in a regional town. Two staff contracted COVID-19, which resulted in the residents spending six weeks in isolation in their rooms. There were no deaths but the mental health of the residents, including my mother, has suffered. 

“This is the general problem facing aged care. While the staff at my mother’s home do their best in regard to physical care, endless games of bingo passing for entertainment and stimulation is very clearly inadequate. My mother does not play bingo, so she spends long periods alone in her room. Like most residents, she is very depressed. 

“It is the same in almost all homes. This is definitely not good enough!”

Media contact: Alex McKinnon 0411 829 334

Spokespeople:

Tessa Pang, Human RightsCampaigner at GetUp

Wendy, daughter of an aged care resident