TAK­ING A GRAN STAND

PM calls royal com­mis­sion into aged-care cru­elty

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

CRUEL aged-care homes that mis­treat and rip off vul­ner­a­ble el­derly Aussies will be ex­posed by a bomb­shell royal com­mis­sion, to be un­veiled by Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son to­day.

Mr Mor­ri­son told The Sun­day Mail last night he was com­pelled to take the dras­tic step af­ter re­ceiv­ing shock brief­ings that the num­ber of aged-care res­i­dents at “se­ri­ous risk” of harm in dodgy homes had sky­rock­eted.

PRIME Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son will to­day an­nounce a royal com­mis­sion into aged care, say­ing he can no longer ig­nore the alarm­ing rate of op­er­a­tors flout­ing the law and putting lives at risk.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has been un­der pres­sure to crack down on the sec­tor af­ter a se­ries of scan­dals ex­posed cases of ne­glect, cost cut­ting, staff short­ages and abuse.

New gov­ern­ment data re­veals there was a 177 per cent jump in the num­ber of aged­care homes where a “se­ri­ous risk” to res­i­dents was iden­ti­fied in the last fi­nan­cial year.

There was also a 292 per cent jump in fa­cil­i­ties re­fus­ing to com­ply with rules.

Mr Mor­ri­son said he was “trou­bled” by the brief­ings he had re­ceived since tak­ing the top job and de­cided to act.

“Walk­ing by th­ese statis­tics was not pos­si­ble,” he said. “I want to be sat­is­fied, I want to know how wide­spread it is.”

The Coali­tion will spend the com­ing weeks con­sult­ing stake­hold­ers be­fore an­nounc­ing terms of ref­er­ence. But the royal com­mis­sion is ex­pected to fo­cus on the qual­ity of care in pri­vate and gov­ern­ment-run aged care homes.

The Sun­day Mail un­der­stands it will also hear from young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties liv­ing in Res­i­den­tial Aged Care homes.

Re­cently, pri­vate aged-care fa­cil­i­ties have come un­der fire from ad­vo­cates for putting profit ahead of pa­tients.

But Gov­ern­ment data shows the surg­ing num­ber of com­plaints are not re­stricted to any one part of the aged care sec­tor, whether it is for profit or not for profit.

The de­ci­sion to hold a royal com­mis­sion was also trig­gered by the Oak­den el­der abuse scan­dal in South Aus­tralia where de­men­tia pa­tients at a gov­ern­ment-run fa­cil­ity were abused and ne­glected over a 10-year-pe­riod.

“As a com­mu­nity we ex­pect high stan­dards for the qual­ity and safety of aged-care ser­vices,” Mr Mor­ri­son said.

The Prime Min­is­ter said he wanted all Aus­tralians fac­ing the de­ci­sion to send a fam­ily mem­ber into care to have con­fi­dence in the sys­tem.

“When­ever you make that de­ci­sion, you want to be con­fi­dent as a hus­band, wife or part­ner … that it's go­ing to be OK,” he said. “They are trust­ing you 100 per cent that you are mak­ing the right de­ci­sions for them. That’s a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity and peo­ple feel that re­ally deeply.”

The an­nounce­ment comes ahead of a TV in­ves­ti­ga­tion due to air this week, but the Gov­ern­ment has de­nied it was a trig­ger to act.

The Coali­tion will hope the pledge helps its prospects as MPs head back to Can­berra for an­other sit­ting week ex­pected to be over­shad­owed by a back­bench re­bel­lion that could force Peter Dut­ton to face the High Court.

Pic­ture: Joel Car­rett/AAP

CRACK­DOWN: Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son.

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