Call for probe to be widened

Broome Advertiser - - NEWS - Phoebe Wearne and Shane Wright

The State Gov­ern­ment wants the royal com­mis­sion on aged care to in­clude re­tire­ment vil­lages, ar­gu­ing the probe must in­ves­ti­gate “all as­pects” of the sec­tor for it to be ef­fec­tive.

As the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment set­tles on the terms of ref­er­ence for the in­quiry, there are calls for it to in­clude the com­plexes after rev­e­la­tions of el­derly res­i­dents be­ing ex­ploited.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son omit­ted the multi­bil­lion­dol­lar in­dus­try when he an­nounced the royal com­mis­sion on the aged-care sys­tem on Septem­ber 16, but sug­gested re­tire­ment vil­lages could be looked into “where the States and Ter­ri­to­ries wish to par­tic­i­pate, or wish to sug­gest an in­volve­ment”.

The sur­prise move was wel­comed by WA Se­niors and Age­ing Min­is­ter Mick Mur­ray, who said the State Gov­ern­ment was “strongly sup­port­ive” of the royal com­mis­sion, but be­lieved its terms of ref­er­ence needed to be broad­ened.

“The royal com­mis­sion must in­ves­ti­gate all as­pects of aged care — whether re­lat­ing to in­sti­tu­tions, home-care sup­port or oth­er­wise,” he told The West Aus­tralian.

“We have heard re­ports of shock­ing be­hav­iour in aged care in a range of set­tings and the royal com­mis­sion’s scope must be ex­ten­sive enough to cap­ture all ar­eas where there is the po­ten­tial for abuse or ne­glect.”

Aged-care ser­vices that are sub­sidised by the Com­mon­wealth are po­liced by Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties, but re­tire­ment vil­lages are reg­u­lated by the States.

Mr Mor­ri­son has al­ready com­mit­ted the com­mis­sion to ex­am­in­ing the qual­ity of nurs­ing homes and in-home aged care, in­clud­ing the care of young Aus­tralians with dis­abil­i­ties in res­i­den­tial aged-care fa­cil­i­ties.

Fed­eral La­bor yes­ter­day ac­cused Mr Mor­ri­son of cut­ting mil­lions of dol­lars from the aged-care sec­tor when he was trea­surer, but the Gov­ern­ment’s Bud­get pa­pers show the coali­tion has in­creased fund­ing to aged care in dol­lar terms.

How­ever, fund­ing growth for aged care has been slow­ing since 2014 as the num­ber of Aus­tralians over the age of 85 in­creased by 29 per cent, or more than 112,000 peo­ple. To put this in con­text, over the same pe­riod WA’s pop­u­la­tion in­creased by 67,200.

Coun­cil on the Age­ing WA pres­i­dent Ron­ald Re­gan said the sys­tem was “not as good as it could be” and the royal com­mis­sion would no doubt come to be a “very im­por­tant piece of work”.

He said more fund­ing was re­quired for the sec­tor to “do aged care well” and the “whole gam­bit”, in­clud­ing re­tire­ment vil­lages, should be looked at to pro­tect a vul­ner­a­ble sec­tion of the com­mu­nity.

The State Gov­ern­ment want the probe into aged care to be widened to in­clude re­tire­ment vil­lages.

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