The president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, says the Royal Commission into aged care means there “must be no more excuses, no more delays” in reforming the sector.
Like everyone else, it appears the group only saw the eight-volume report today, so have not commented on the specific reformers but Khorshid says the government “must embrace this opportunity to make aged care a safe and high-quality place for older Australians, including improved access to medical care”.
Older Australians deserve to have the same opportunity to have the best quality of life as everyone else, and the same access to high quality medical and nursing care they have enjoyed throughout their lives. Sadly, this Report shows that this has not been the case. In fact, far from it.”
“The AMA has continuously warned the Government that the health and aged care systems are not equipped to deal with the growing ageing population living longer and with multiple chronic diseases.
“Together, the AMA and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation have been calling on the Government to take urgent measures to improve the situation in aged care and bring comfort and confidence to our parents and grandparents who have given so much to their families and the communities throughout their lives.
“With the release of the Royal Commission’s final report, there must be no more excuses, no more delays. The reform process must start immediately. Care can’t wait.”
Key report recommendation ignored as resident providers receive $190m funding
Ian Yates, the chief executive of the Council on the Ageing, has questioned whether it was appropriate for the Morrison government to provide $190m in funding to residential aged care providers in its immediate response to the aged care royal commission final report today.
Speaking to ABC TV, Yates said he was “a bit surprised” that residential providers, some of which had been scorned in the final report, had been given the $189.9m in “temporary financial support” without a requirement they spend it on staff – a key recommendation in the report.
I must say I’m a little bit surprised they have given residential care providers $190m without a condition that they spend it on staff. Which is what we have urged them to do.
Yates also played down the significance of the ideological split between the two aged care royal commissioners, Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs, which triggered several different and conflicting recommendations.
You can read more about the aged care royal commission’s final report, and its 148 recommendations, here:
The foreign minister Marise Payne has expressed concerns about reports charges have been laid against 47 pro-democracy candidates.
Independent Senator Rex Patrick has also criticised the government’s initial response to the aged care royal commission, saying the report reveals that a “profound shift is required” in dealing with the sector.
It’s a damning report that must be answered properly, not with a measly $452m when the problem needs a multi-billion dollar solution. The commissioner has made 148 recommendations which need to be seriously considered. Prima facie, all need to implemented.”
He’s also (confusingly) used the report to criticise government over-spending on defence projects including its Future Submarines project.
The government can’t let money be idly squandered in one portfolio whilst so much money is needed in another portfolio. The government must get on and fix what is a very broken system.”
The chief executive of the Council on the Ageing Australia, Ian Yates, spoke about the release of the report from Canberra a little while ago. He said the royal commission report was “groundbreaking”.
It does paint a not very pretty picture of a large amount of aged care in Australia. We welcome that. We’ve been talking about that on behalf of older people for a decade. The government has had plenty of time to anticipate this, many of these recommendations were reflected in the final hearing late last year, so government is well-placed to respond by the budget.
On the disagreements on some recommendations by the commissioners Yates said the commissioners “agree that we have to have a huge quantum increase in funding”.
All they disagree about or have alternative views about is what is the best way of doing that … The commissioners have alternative views about … how do we get there, it’s not where should we get to. There is no room for the government to try and wriggle out of any of the destinations that the royal commission points to. It is past time that we set out on the pathway.
Labor’s shadow minister for aged care Clare O’Neil is responding to the release of the royal commission report.
She says the opposition will “consider this final report very carefully” but won’t comment on specifics, she says, because Labor didn’t see the report until it was made public this afternoon.
She says the federal government is “good at saying the right things about how they respect older Australians and then they go into the cabinet room and cut funding from this critical sector and look surprised when things go wrong”.
I find that very disingenuous and I’m really worried this will join the 21 other major reports the government has received during their time in office which have told them some variation on the themes that came out in the final report today.
Morrison also spoke about the historical rape allegation against a cabinet minister revealed by the ABC last week.
The prime minister gave an interesting timeline. He says he spoke to the minister in question on Wednesday last week, who “vigorously and completely denied the allegations”.
He also spoke to the head of the Australian federal police, Reece Kershaw, on Wednesday, as well as the secretary of his department. He says that after that conversation it’s his view that: “at this stage, there are no matters that require attention”.
Morrison insisted that it was a matter for the police, despite the fact that the woman who reportedly made the allegations has since died. Asked whether he had read the materials sent to him about the rape allegation, Morrison said:
I’m aware of the contents of them. I’ve been briefed on the contents of them. And it was appropriate, as the commissioner himself advised the parliament, to refer any allegations to the properly authorities.
He also made some interesting comments about when he first heard about the allegations. He said he received the anonymous materials laying out the allegations which were sent to his office on Wednesday, when he spoke to the minister in question.
However, he also had this back and forth with a journalist in which he says he was aware of “rumours” but that he did not pursue those rumours.
Journalist: And had you heard about these claims at all before last week?
Morrison: No, not really of any substance, no.
Journalist: What had you heard if not of substance?
Morrison: Only rumours of an ABC investigative journalist making some inquiries. That’s all I’d heard. I didn’t know the substance of them.
Journalist: Did you know who it was about when you heard those rumours or when you heard vaguely about [the rumours].
Morrison: I tend to not pay attention to rumours … I wasn’t aware of the substance of it and as a result not in a position to pursue it. When I was put in a position to pursue it, I did.
So maybe we should briefly recap.
The prime minister Scott Morrison announced the release of the Royal Commission into aged care, committing $425m in an initial response but saying the government’s full response won’t come until the federal budget.
The report made 148 recommendations, including the approval of home care packages within one month from the date of a person’s assessment, and clearing the current wait list by the end of the year. It also recommends putting the power to prescribe anti-psychotic drugs for aged care residents in the hands of a psychiatrist or geriatrician to restrict their use.
Morrison admitted it would take “quite considerable time to achieve the scale of change” recommended by the report, but some of the immediate measures will include $18m to enhance oversight of home care packages and $92m to create more than 18,000 places for additional aged care workers between now and mid-2023.
Responding to the report on the ABC just now, Prof Joe Ibrahim, the head of the Health, Law and Ageing Research Unit at Monash University, called the response “underwhelming”.
“The 450m that has been allocated now is less than 3% of the total annual budget for aged care so it’s really just, it’s not very much at all and what the prime minister has said is they will simply be doing more of the same, but the things that are not working, we will just do more of them. We will do more audits with the regulator when we know the regulator has been ineffectual and not working. So it does not make any sense and it doesn’t put us on the path for the generational change.
Morrison is asked whether it’s acceptable for a cabinet minister to remain in his position given the allegations raised by Four Corners. He says the AFP commissioner has not told him that he should take action.
I think it’s appropriate for the federal police to deal with it and for the federal police to advise me of the nature of this, which they’re doing. At this stage, the commissioner has raised no issue with me and the department secretary was present for that call as well, that would cause me to take action under the ministerial code. That’s where we are, right now. And, you know, I’m aware of other allegations, and, you know, I think similar – similar principles apply. We’ve got to be careful to ensure that we still follow the rule of law in this country.
Morrison on his conversation with the minister in question on Wednesday:
I’m not going to go into the conversation. Simply to tell you I was asked. Did I raise it? Yes, I did. And he vigorously and completely denied the allegations. So that means there is a proper process now for it to follow.
Morrison says he won’t be launching an inquiry to the allegations, saying it’s the job of police. One of the reporters points out that given the woman who reportedly made the allegations has since died, it is unlikely the police will be able to relaunch any investigation into the incident.
He again says it is appropriate to pass it on to the Australian federal police.
Morrison says cabinet minister has denied historical rape allegations
Morrison is asked whether he has asked the cabinet minister who is facing allegations of a historical rape whether he denies them.
Yes, I have and he absolutely does.
He says the conversation occurred on Wednesday last week. He says he also spoke to the commissioner of the AFP, the secretary of the department of prime minister and cabinet and the deputy secretary.
Asked whether he knew about it before Wednesday, he says:
No, not really of any substance, no … Only rumours of an ABC investigative journalist making some inquiries. That’s all I’d heard. I didn’t know the substance of them … I tend to not pay attention to the rumours.”
He’s asked what he did with the materials and says that he forwarded them to the AFP. Asked whether he read them, he says:
I’m aware of the contents of them. I’ve been briefed on the contents of them. And it was appropriate, as the commissioner himself advised the parliament, to refer any allegations to the proper authorities. That is the way in our country under the rule of law things like this are dealt with. It is important to ensure that we uphold that. That is the way our society operates. Now, these are very distressing issues that have been raised, as there are other issues that have been raised in relation to other members in other cases. But the proper place for that to be dealt is by the authorities, which are the police. That’s how our country operates.
Aged and Community Services Australia chief executive Patricia Sparrow says the split in recommendations in the royal commissions is “by no means an excuse to delay major aged care reform”.
There is no split on the need for a total overhaul that means providers are resourced to employ more staff and deliver more care and support. This cannot be used as an excuse to not progress major reforms. We know what the big problems are – we now need the big solutions.
There is a lot of work that the industry can get on with in order to deliver better aged care to Australia, but without increased support from government and community we won’t see the kind of system older people deserve.”
The government has announced $452.2m as a starting point for reform. We welcome this but the most important thing now is a complete overhaul.
We need an overhaul, not just more top-ups, in order to guarantee respect for older Australians for future generations.”
There’s a kind of weird dynamic going on at this press conference. A few journalists are attempting to ask Scott Morrison questions about the historical rape allegations made against one of his cabinet ministers last week, but he’s declining to take them until there are no more questions about aged care.