Aged-care staff baulk at stand-in role for res­i­dents

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - RACHEL BAXENDALE

Aged-care staff are wor­ried they may be obliged to com­plete a same-sex mar­riage sur­vey form on be­half of el­derly res­i­dents whose views they op­pose.

The Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics’ gen­eral man­ager of peo­ple, cul­ture and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Samantha Palmer, told a Se­nate in­quiry yes­ter­day the agency had heard from an aged-care provider whose staff were wor­ried they may not wish to com­plete sur­vey forms ac­cord­ing to a res­i­dent’s wishes. “We’ve pro­vided ad­vice that if you do not feel you can com­plete a sur­vey form in align­ment with wishes of the per­son whose form it is, then you should re­spect­fully de­cline,” Ms Palmer said.

La­bor se­na­tor Louise Pratt ex­pressed con­cern that re­li­gious aged-care cen­tres could use ex­emp­tions un­der the Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act to refuse to fill out forms on be­half of res­i­dents whose views con­flicted with the re­li­gious be­liefs of staff.

Deputy Aus­tralian Statis­ti­cian Jonathan Palmer said in­sti­tu­tions and in­di­vid­u­als would be break­ing the law if they filled forms out con­trary to peo­ple’s wishes. He also said up to 20 forms had been of­fered for sale on­line, and he planned to meet the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice to dis­cuss the ac­tiv­ity and re­fer rel­e­vant cases to them.

Mr Palmer said an ABS team had been work­ing with on­line mar­ket­places such as eBay to have ads blocked or re­moved.

The ABS es­ti­mated that by close of busi­ness yes­ter­day, 7.5 mil­lion, or 47 per cent of Aus­tralians on the elec­toral roll, would have re­ceived their postal sur­vey forms. Over­seas vot­ers can vote on­line from Septem­ber 25.

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