GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO BITE THE BULLET ON HOME CARE – FIX IT NOW

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:02): The final point I want to make as a grievance on behalf of my constituents is about the aged-care sector. I have spoken about this before. In my office, we took a bit of time off over Christmas and New Year, as I'm sure everyone did.

The first phone message that my office replied to when we came back was from a gentleman who couldn't get his aged-care package. He needed his home-care package and hadn't been able to get it. This is an ongoing and consistent issue. I'm sure it's not just in Labor or Independent offices; I'm sure it's across the country. If an older person is assessed as needing help to maintain themselves in their home, one would think that, once that box is ticked, it would come pretty quickly.

They've already been identified as being vulnerable. It's taking many months, if not a year or more, for people to get the package they've been assessed as needing. What are the implications of that? There are their families. Women have said to me that they've given up work because they couldn't sustain a job and look after an elderly parent, even though they'd been assessed as being eligible for support. The pressure on families increases and there is the vulnerability of the older person, who may end up in residential care when they could have stayed in their home for much longer.

All of these implications have serious costs for the family, for the community and for government, all because the government has not bitten the bullet and found a resolution. Dripping out an extra 10,000 places every time there's a complaint about it is not good enough. The royal commission said it needed urgent attention and that waiting lists had to be knocked down, because all we're doing is putting on 10,000 extra places and another 10,000 to 20,000 people are coming in. I've spoken about it regularly on behalf of my constituents, but the aged-care sector needs urgent and serious attention from the government.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.