Protesters hit MP’s office to demand action on aged care


Protesters will rally outside the Dawson MP’s office to demand at least one registered nurse be present at all times at all private aged care facilities.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union secretary Beth Mohle said George Christensen’s office was one of seven between Cairns and Brisbane being targeted as part of the union’s Aged Care Day of Action on Monday.

The rally comes as the final report into a 28-month Royal Commission into Aged Care was handed down to the Prime Minister on Friday.

The findings have not yet been released to the public.

Read more: 100 assaults a week: Aged care abuse kept secret

“The QNMU and all Australians await Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to the crisis in Australian private aged care,” Ms Mohle said.

“While we wait, elderly Australians continue to suffer as a result of chronic and systemic understaffing in private aged care facilities. All federal politicians should be held to account for their positions on the protection of vulnerable elderly Australians.’

“We will not let yet another review into aged care be put on the shelf to gather dust – we want a commitment to action now.”

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) Secretary Beth Mohle. Picture: Contributed

Ms Mohle said the union was calling for laws to be strengthened so at least one registered nurse had to be on site at all times.

“Unlike (at) childcare or hospitals, there are no federal laws that state how private aged care facilities should be staffed,” she said.

“As a result, thousands of elderly Australians continue to suffer due to chronic understaffing.”

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QNMU organiser Auriel Robinson said Mr Christensen had been “disturbingly silent” on aged care issues in an electorate with more than 31,000 constituents aged 60 and over.

“Mr Christensen has also not signed the QNMU’s pledge to make safe staffing law in aged care,” Ms Robinson said.

“He has also not turned up to discuss our concerns.

“The Royal Commission have handed over their recommendations – our politicians must act now to protect the tens of thousands of elderly Australians in their care.”

The QNMU stated Australia had about 900 private aged care providers which received more than $66 billion in taxpayer money over the past size years.

“They do not have to publicly report how any of the funds are spent,” it stated.

“Queensland’s largest private aged care providers including BlueCare, TriCare and Bolton Clarke actually cut staff numbers or hours during COVID-19.

“The QNMU reported these matters, and many others, to the federal government but it’s not believed any action has been taken.

“The QNMU and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation is calling for the introduction of mandated minimum staffing levels and required mix of skills and qualifications in every residential facility, over every shift.”

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Protesters will gather outside Mr Christensen’s office on Milton St at 11am.

All private aged care facilities in Mackay are accredited by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.



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Australia’s aged care system set for $452 million boost following release of royal commission report



The federal government will spend $452 million to fix Australia’s aged care system as part of a first step in responding to the royal commission into the sector.

The final report of the two-and-a-half-year federal inquiry was released on Monday and includes 148 recommendations.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the inquiry’s final report has set out a roadmap that will establish “generational change” in Australia’s aged care sector.

“Australians must be able to trust that their loved ones will be cared for appropriately and the community should have confidence in the system,” he told reporters.

The first recommendation in the final report is to create a new aged care act, coming into force no later than July 2023.

Commissioners Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs wrote in the final report the current aged care system and its “weak and ineffective regulatory arrangements did not arise by accident”. 

“The move to ritualistic regulation was a natural consequence of the government’s desire to restrain expenditure in aged care,” they wrote.

“In essence, having not provided enough funding for good quality care, the regulatory arrangements could only pay lip service to the requirement that the care that was provided be of high quality.”

The royal commission was told countless tales of abuse and neglect across two years of hearings, with its 2019 interim paper urging a complete overhaul of a “woefully inadequate” system.

It found there was an overuse of drugs to “restrain” aged care residents, while younger people with disabilities were stuck in aged care.

Pay and conditions for staff were poor, workloads heavy and severe difficulties existed in recruitment and retention, it also noted.

The sector, which is predominantly funded by the Commonwealth, has come under increased scrutiny during the pandemic with hundreds of aged care residents dying from COVID-19.

More to come.

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What will the aged care royal commission recommend? We think we know, and how the government will respond


Over the past three years, I’ve examined hundreds of hours of hidden camera footage from Australia’s nursing homes.

Some showed outright physical abuse, others revealed the so-called rough handling that comes from untrained, insensitive and overworked carers.

There was one video showing the physical assault of a frail woman with dementia that was so vicious that, by the end of production I had to avert my eyes and block my ears in the edit suite.

But there is one collection of footage that remains firmly in my mind, because instead of revealing an explosion of violence it shows a type of human rights abuse that is so common in aged care that it goes almost unremarked.

It creeps up over weeks, months and years, and yet is almost impossible to prove and is never investigated by the police.

It’s called neglect.

It’s also the title of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s interim report, because it is the overriding theme in the 10,000 submissions the inquiry received.

Luigi Cantali was 80, blind, and had dementia. Despite his disabilities, the video revealed Luigi also had a great attitude to life and a cheeky sense of humour, but none of those saved him from neglect.

Luigi Cantali and his daughter Eva.

At his Sydney nursing home, Luigi was only taken from his room to go to the bathroom or shower, and that wasn’t often.

Despite soiled incontinence pads leaking on to his clothes, his chair and the floor, he was rarely changed, nor was disinfectant consistently used to clean his room.

Footage showed one carer spraying his body and his clothes with deodorant.

When it came to meals, carers promised to feed him but left without returning.

On one day, the blind man managed to find a mango on his tray, which he peeled and devoured.

Another day, the tray is left out of his reach and 40 minutes later taken away by a carer, untouched.

On other occasions, Luigi was lifted naked in a hoist, taken out to the corridor for everyone to see, with no regard for his dignity.

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Luigi Cantali’s daughter hid a camera in his Sydney nursing home.

But perhaps the most common image in the footage was Luigi alone, sitting in his chair or lying in his bed.

Occasionally he called out “hello?” in case someone should pass by his room.

His questions to carers about going out for a walk ignored, the cries for his wife plaintive, and his basic desire to connect with another human being quashed.

When the hidden camera was discovered by Carino Care, the private nursing home in Sydney where Luigi lived, management reported Luigi’s daughter to police, suggesting she was violating his privacy.

The police quickly dismissed that suggestion but didn’t investigate Carino Care about conditions for Luigi.

At the time of publishing Luigi’s story, Carino Care said it hadn’t viewed the footage because it was “a police matter” and that it had provided Luigi “with the best possible care.”

But when the regulator, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, went and inspected the nursing home days after our story aired, it sanctioned Carino Care for putting residents at “serious risk”, finding it failed 24 out of 44 quality and safety standards.

Luigi’s family moved him to a new nursing home, but he died within six days.

Overwhelming evidence of aged care issues

Luigi’s hidden camera was put in place in December 2018, a few short months after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a royal commission into aged care.

That announcement came just the day before a special two-part investigation into aged care aired on Four Corners.

Who Cares? was the result of the ABC’s largest crowdsourced investigation at that time, which resulted in more than 4,000 families and staff from around Australia telling us their stories from inside nursing homes.

We heard of an overwhelming amount of work done by too few people with too little training; sexual and physical abuse swept under the carpet; $6 a day food bills; humiliations like continence pads restricted to three-per-day; a lack of transparency about how providers spend taxpayer dollars; and a broken regulatory and complaints system.

That evidence was repeated hundreds of times throughout two years of the royal commission’s hearings and now forms the final report, which was handed to the Governor-General on Friday.

It is expected the government will release that final report today, and we already have a good idea of what will be in it because counsel assisting laid out all 124 recommendations in the final hearings last October.

More surprising for this kind of inquiry is that we also know which changes the government is likely to reject — it’s all there in black and white on the royal commission’s website in a submission by the Commonwealth, namely the Department of Health and the federal aged care regulator.

For those who are cynical about the value of a royal commission, it makes grim reading.

Of the 124 recommendations, the joint submission supports just eight entirely.

They are completely opposed to six of them, while the vast majority — at least half — are referred to as being “supported in principle”.

They reject one of the royal commission’s key proposals to have an independent body separate from the government dictating the funding levels.

At the same time, the government submission questions introducing extra reporting requirements for aged care companies to publish how they spend the more than $20 billion in taxpayer money that goes to the sector.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison may try to argue that this submission from the department and the regulator doesn’t reflect the government view — an argument few would believe possible since ministers and the leadership direct their departments in policy.

Of the more than 100 recommendations, here are some of the responses.

Staffing mix agreed, but reporting shouldn’t be ‘overly burdensome’

Unlike in child care and hospitals, there are no staffing ratios in aged care.

There is not even a requirement to have a registered nurse on duty.

The staff in part one of Who Cares? talked about registered nurses being in charge of over 100 residents and skeleton staff on night duty.

Instead of suggesting minimum staffing numbers, the royal commission is recommending a “minimum staff time” for residents given by a “skills mix” of qualified nurses and personal care workers to do the hands-on work.

The aim is to ensure the average resident receives three hours of care per day plus another half an hour from a registered nurse.

That would be a vast improvement on what we have currently, with a royal commission study showing more than half of Australia’s facilities would rate just one or two stars in the US five-star rating system when it comes to staffing.

But while the government “supports the intent” of that change, it adds that the amount of time needed “varies significantly with the acuity of residents, and as a result the level and type of staff time appropriate for each facility will also vary”.

The suggestion — which echoes the industry line — is that some residents need less than three and a half hours of direct care per day.

That seems hard to believe considering most people entering aged care now do so as a last resort and are therefore older, more frail, sicker and require more assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, walking and attending to medical needs.

The Department of Health and the federal regulator also warn that reporting staff numbers on a quarterly basis as suggested shouldn’t be “overly burdensome” for aged care providers.

The government is more supportive of the need for having at least one registered nurse rostered on every shift.

Before the Aged Care Act of 1997 was introduced by then-prime minister John Howard, a registered nurse on duty 24/7 was a requirement in aged care.

Now the royal commission wants them back and, although the department and regulator say they “support the intent” of at least one registered nurse on-site at all times, they say exceptions would need to be made for rural and remote areas.

Advocates want the nurses back but are concerned with the long deadline the royal commission has given of 2024 to have the measure in place.

Mandatory qualifications ‘shouldn’t be a barrier’ for carers

In child care, staff need a Certificate III qualification to work.

However, in aged care there’s no minimum training requirement for personal care assistants who make up 70 per cent of all staff and who do the crucial work of showering, feeding and mobilising the elderly.

Training is so loosely defined in the sector: It can be one carer training another on the job over a period of days.

Throughout our many stories on aged care, the lack of training and knowledge of staff has been one of the consistent themes.

And it’s in hidden camera footage that it can be most clearly seen, such as the case of Ernie Poloni at Bupa Templestowe.

Ernie’s family installed the camera to find out why his pyjamas were consistently ripped and found the 85-year-old was handled roughly by a variety of staff.

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Ernie’s family put a secret camera in his room to find out why his pyjamas were regularly torn.(Supplied)

But while the royal commission will recommend a Certificate III be the minimum training requirement in aged care, the federal regulator and the Department of Health say it “shouldn’t be a barrier to staff” who want to work in the sector and “who have the right attitude and aptitude to provide care”.

They say it should “take into account challenges posed by areas of low workforce supply such as rural and remote areas”, and that people should be able to gain the certificate while working on the job.

The peak industry groups share that view.

That’s probably because they are already struggling to attract workers and know that many people will not pay for a certificate for a job that often pays $21 an hour, just over a dollar per hour more than the minimum wage.

The government also takes exception to the royal commission’s recommendation staff should have mandatory dementia and palliative care training saying that may not be “practical or feasible” and instead should be considered part of “best practice guidance” rather than mandatory.

Considering half the residents in aged care have dementia and — realistically — almost all of them will die in there, this seems a shocking objection.

A lack of training in dementia is known to lead to the overuse of drugs and sedatives.

No support for plan to stop GPs prescribing antipsychotics

Chemical restraint, or the use of antipsychotics to control dementia behaviours, has been front and centre in our aged care stories.

The overuse of physical and chemical restraints has been described as a human rights abuse with the Australian Law Reform Commission making recommendations to stop it six years ago — reforms that were ignored by the government.

In January 2019, we broadcast pictures of Terry Reeves, who suffered after being physically and chemically restrained while on a respite stay in a Sydney nursing home.

An old man in two photographs side by side. In one he is sitting up smiling, the other he is slumped over, his head on his knees
Terry Reeves on his first day in the home and seven weeks later.(Supplied)

That case was examined at the royal commission and showed that the GP who attended the nursing home increased the dosage of risperidone at the request of staff.

The royal commission wants changes made by November this year so that only a psychiatrist or geriatrician can authorise the initial prescription of antipsychotics.

But the federal regulator and the department oppose that change, saying it is not “feasible” as there are not enough specialists to do the job and that “improved clinician education” will stop the overuse of the drugs.

That will anger many, especially when it’s known that antipsychotics are not always effective, can cause death and that GPs can be coerced by overworked staff who don’t have the numbers or knowledge to deal with challenging behaviours.

On the other hand, others say the measure is short-sighted, as GPs will find other drugs to use if antipsychotics are restricted.

The answer, they say, is more trained qualified nursing and care staff who view psychotropic drugs as a last resort.

Home care waiting list

The royal commission wants the home care waiting list — at the moment topping 100,000 people — cleared by the end of the year.

Portrait of an elderly lady clutching her teddy.
Evelyn Micallef waited more than a year for funds to be released on an approved upgrade to her homecare package.(ABC News)

We’ve interviewed families like those of Evelyn Micallef, who waited 18 months for the highest level package despite crippling dementia and her inability to walk.

The average wait for Level 4 packages is over two years, with estimates that 28,000 people died waiting between 2018 and 2020.

Clearing the waiting list is supported “in principle” by the Department of Health, which says it’s already doing that with the “progressive release of packages at a rate that the sector can implement”.

Although the federal government says it has now “funded” 50,000 home care packages, in reality, it has only “released” just over a third of those (or 17,000) which is why the waitlist remains so long.

What the government doesn’t say is that they’re holding back the packages because there is a massive shortage of home care workers.

The workforce shortage is a major problem in both residential and home care, which is why it’s puzzling that the regulator and department have rejected the recommendation that the government take charge of the Aged Care Workforce Council.

Once again, the government has a “hands off ” approach, leaving it to the industry to tackle a massive social issue as our population ages.

The federal regulator and department also warned that clearing the waiting list could put the elderly at risk because it will require more home care providers “who are inexpert” and the regulator will be busy monitoring them as they “will pose a significant regulatory uplift”.

It certainly will require an uplift.

Last year, the federal regulator did just 76 reviews of home care providers out of more than 900.

Split report expected

As for the future of funding and regulating the sector, this is the great sticking point that looks likely to split the commissioners.

A man and a woman sit in front of the royal commission signage.
Royal Commissioners the Honourable Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs AO.(Supplied: Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety)

During the final hearings in October last year, commissioner Lynelle Briggs voiced her opposition to a new statutory corporate body — away from Canberra — while fellow commissioner Tony Pagone QC was in favour of it.

It is clear the government supports Ms Briggs’ view, saying it would need to be convinced changing the regulatory body would improve the sector for the better.

The large cost of creating a new regulatory arm also seems to be on the government’s mind.

It seems likely the commissioners will disagree on other key recommendations too, judging by comments heard from Mr Pagone when speaking to the Governor-General, saying final proposals “have been difficult to reach” as the two have “different views on key measures”.

Overall, the Commonwealth submission gives a clear impression that the government is worried about the vast cost the reforms would entail.

If it is a split report, it’s easy to imagine the government implementing the least costly recommendation from either commissioner.

For example, the government opposes new Medicare benefit schedules for doctors to do three-monthly or six-monthly checks on aged care residents.

While it agrees on the need for an online rating system to allow families to compare nursing homes, it claims it already has a system in place on My Aged Care and the regulator’s website.

However, that’s not the case, with no publicly available information on staffing, complaints, assault or performance reports to assist someone in choosing the best aged care home.

It’s also opposed to extra measures to ensure increased governance by members of boards however the department has, once again, argued there should not be an extra burden on aged care providers.

The royal commission has heard from many traumatised families and staff throughout its hearings but there’s been little acknowledgement of that pain.

Dealing with literally hundreds of people myself, I can say that there are many damaged people who witnessed shocking neglect and abuse, who were further injured by providers who denied their stories and the final blow, saw no penalty meted out by the federal regulator — even when neglect and abuse were proven.

The Prime Minister’s oft-repeated claim that he called the royal commission because he wants the sector changed, rings hollow if the government is again going to ignore how to fix a broken system.

That has already happened with over 20 reports into problems in the sector gathering dust over the past decade.

The question is, will the government go so far as to ignore reforms recommended by the highest form of inquiry this country has to offer?

If the submission from its department and regulator is anything to go by, the answer is, unfortunately, yes.

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More than 120 doses of Pfizer vaccine thrown out at Melbourne aged care home after delivery error



More than 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been thrown out after more than double the supply of required vials was delivered to a Melbourne aged care home by mistake in another rollout bungle.

The federal health department has confirmed 125 doses, or 25 vials, of the COVID-19 vaccine were thrown out, as it could not be guaranteed the required sub-zero refrigeration process had been followed.

A vial of the Pfizer vaccine is prepared for use.

9News understands the vaccines were delivered to St Vincent’s aged care in Werribee, in the city’s south-west, on Wednesday, with the facility receiving more than double the required number of doses to treat its 70 consenting residents.


“Aspen reported to the Commonwealth’s Vaccine Operation Centre that there were 25 vials unused and stored in an on-site refrigerator,” a Federal Government statement read.
“The Pfizer vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator at two-eight degrees celcius for up to five days.
“While refrigeration was maintained, it was not possible to verify that temperature was maintained throughout.
“Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, a medical decision was made not to use the remaining vials.”
Premier Daniel Andrews was quizzed about the error today but said he had no details about the incident.
“I think (Federal Health Minister) Greg Hunt is the person to talk to there,” he said.

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Northern Territory cattle and tourism pioneer Peter Severin dies aged 93


Cattle and tourism pioneer Peter Severin has died aged 93, at the remote station and famous roadhouse near Uluru he established more than six decades ago.

Mr Severin’s family announced his death on Saturday morning in a statement they said was made “with profound sadness”.

“He was a true gentleman, devoted son, loving husband and proud father,” the statement said.

“Pete passed away peacefully in his 94th year, surrounded by those he loved, and those that loved him, at Curtin Springs Station, his home for over 65 years.”

In a social media post, Hospitality NT described the long-serving publican as a “true Territory pioneer and pioneer of Central Australia”.

The Severin roadhouse, built on the working cattle station first leased by the family in 1956, was among the isolated area’s first tourism spots opened outside Alice Springs.

The Severin family at their Curtin Springs property in the 1960s.(Supplied)

From early beginnings selling petrol and scones to a growing stream of visitors, Mr Severin and his wife Dawn are credited with opening the region up to domestic and international tourism.

In 1963, Mr Severin installed the controversial chain rope on Uluru, which tourists used to climb the rock until it was closed in 2019 in accordance with the wishes of traditional owners and custodians.

He was awarded the Northern Territory Tourism Minister’s Perpetual Trophy in 2017, in recognition of his contributions to the industry.

The family said they would be sharing highlights of Mr Severin’s life and holding a service in Alice Springs after taking time to mourn his death privately.

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Jockey Jim Johnson, who won three Melbourne Cups, two Cox Plates and a Caulfield Cup, dies aged 92


Champion jockey and Australian hall of fame member Jim ‘Jimmy’ Johnson has died at the age of 92.

Racing Victoria, the Victorian Jockeys’ Association and the Victoria Racing Club each acknowledged the sadness of the occasion and paid homage to the decorated hoop.

Johnson was a three-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey, having been successful on Gatum Gatum in 1963 and also in 1968 and 1969 on Rain Lover.

Johnson was also associated with champion Tobin Bronze aboard who he won a Caulfield Cup and two Cox Plates.

Johnson won four Adelaide jockeys’ premierships before he relocated to Melbourne where he was champion jockey in 1966-67.

He rode in Singapore from 1970 to 1973, winning the jockeys’ title there in 1972 and 1973.

When he retired in 1976, he had ridden 2,158 winners and claimed his place as one of the greats of Australian racing.

Johnson was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame in 2009.

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said Johnson was an exceptional jockey.

“Jimmy was a popular member of the racing community, a true gentleman and great ambassador for our sport long after his incredible success in the saddle.

“He was an active and passionate supporter of the racing industry in retirement as a regular face on the Melbourne Cup Tour and attendee at hall of fame functions.”

AAP

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Northern Territory COVID-19 vaccine rollout set back by aged care delays and missing doses


Aged care sector delays and supply chain “teething problems” have set back the first week of the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the Northern Territory.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles told ABC Radio Darwin this morning that an expected shipment of COVID-19 vaccines did not arrive yesterday, so the Northern Territory ran out of doses earlier than expected.

“We were expecting a small supply that didn’t come through so we’ve raised that with the Commonwealth government about that supply issue,” she said.

Ms Fyles said she did not know why the expected vaccine shipment had not arrived but that there had been several “teething problems” around Australia during the first week of vaccinations.

“The officials are looking into it but we are expecting 400 more doses today.

“We will continue vaccinations this evening and tomorrow.”

Health Minister Natasha Fyles says questions have been raised as to why the vaccines did not arrive.(ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)

Ms Fyles said 581 coronavirus vaccines had been delivered to Territorians as of close of business yesterday.

The NT Government initially projected that 800 NT Health staff would be vaccinated in the first week.

Delays have also been seen in the rollout of the vaccine in the aged care sector, a program managed by the federal government.

Northern Territory Professional Health Network chief executive Gill Yearsley said the delays were due to the “logistically challenging and complex” nature of the delivery plan.

“In the Northern Territory we have experienced some delays in the rollout this week which means some residents have not received their vaccines when initially planned,” he said.

“The delays are being managed and contingencies put in place to ensure residents do receive their vaccinations in the next few days.”

Despite the missing doses and supply chain issues, Ms Fyles said the vaccination program in the Territory was working well.

“To get over 500 people vaccinated in the first four days and to not be lagging behind the rest of Australia, our health professionals have done a great job,” she said.

Ms Fyles said the territory and federal governments were working on getting the appropriate freezers to the territory, which would allow the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to be stored locally and remedy some of the supply issues.

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Quarantine worker Erica Bleakley receives one of the first coronavirus vaccines in the NT.

“They are still some weeks away. I hope we’ll see them by the end of March or early April,” she said.

Ms Fyles said the NT government was hoping to have all Territorians vaccinated by the end of October.

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Aged care is one of the big feminist issues of our time


Firstly, because it is so often men who declare their relative will never go into a home. Talk about virtue signalling. The reason I was wary of Eddie Obeid from day one was his inaugural speech in the NSW Parliament (no doubt he called it his maiden speech) where he ranted: “I despair at the increasing trend in this country where our parents, when old and feeble, are too often taken off to … private nursing homes, rather than be cared for and cherished for their wisdom by their own children.” I’m sure Obeid looked after his parents’ day-to-day physical needs, or perhaps his many female relatives might have been expected to pitch in?

Secondly, women quietly assent to this ideology because they’re too afraid to look heartless. They have internalised the view that the elderly must be cared for by the family. But they know it’s them who will be doing most of the care. They are often looking after their mothers, their mothers-in- law and I even know of a few women who look after their former mothers-in-law.

The hours spent caring for adult family members has doubled for women over the past year.Credit:Tribune

Women in Australia consistently spend 64.4 per cent of their day on unpaid care work compared with 36.1 per cent for men. More specifically, the hours spent caring for adult family members has doubled for women over the past year.

Even when the beloved elder is ensconced in an aged care facility, it is the sister, daughter or daughter-in-law who is doing the everyday life admin that still needs to be done. We all know of some dutiful sons and amazing husbands, but it is rare to see a man collecting the laundry, buying the new bed jacket or sewing the names into the clothes.

I’m not hypocritical about this. I don’t want my family having to care for my physical needs. It is too distressing. Unlike looking after an infant, looking after a beloved parent as they deteriorate is depressing. I’ve told my family that when I become demented, as I surely will (I’ve consulted Dr Google), I want them to choose a nice facility – nothing flashy – and have me seated in a corner with the telly on and Vera on a loop. And feed me Tim Tams. For once in my life I won’t have to worry about getting fat. I will have a cheerful, hopefully well paid stranger to attend to my medical and physical needs.

I would love to believe we could have a system where the elderly stay in their homes with appropriate government help and that the extra care that is inevitably needed falls equally on the men and women in the family. We all know that this will not happen. While nursing homes are routinely exposed in the media, and now by the royal commission, it strengthens society’s distaste for institutional care and throws aged care back onto the shoulders of women.

Meredith Burgmann is a former academic, NSW Labor MLC and the founder of the Ernie Awards for Sexism.

Thanks for stopping by and seeing this story on New South Wales news named “Aged care is one of the big feminist issues of our time”. This news update was posted by My Local Pages as part of our Australian news services.

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Aged care is one of the big feminist issues of our time


Firstly, because it is so often men who declare their relative will never go into a home. Talk about virtue signalling. The reason I was wary of Eddie Obeid from day one was his inaugural speech in the NSW Parliament (no doubt he called it his maiden speech) where he ranted: “I despair at the increasing trend in this country where our parents, when old and feeble, are too often taken off to … private nursing homes, rather than be cared for and cherished for their wisdom by their own children.” I’m sure Obeid looked after his parents’ day-to-day physical needs, or perhaps his many female relatives might have been expected to pitch in?

Secondly, women quietly assent to this ideology because they’re too afraid to look heartless. They have internalised the view that the elderly must be cared for by the family. But they know it’s them who will be doing most of the care. They are often looking after their mothers, their mothers-in- law and I even know of a few women who look after their former mothers-in-law.

The hours spent caring for adult family members has doubled for women over the past year.Credit:Tribune

Women in Australia consistently spend 64.4 per cent of their day on unpaid care work compared with 36.1 per cent for men. More specifically, the hours spent caring for adult family members has doubled for women over the past year.

Even when the beloved elder is ensconced in an aged care facility, it is the sister, daughter or daughter-in-law who is doing the everyday life admin that still needs to be done. We all know of some dutiful sons and amazing husbands, but it is rare to see a man collecting the laundry, buying the new bed jacket or sewing the names into the clothes.

I’m not hypocritical about this. I don’t want my family having to care for my physical needs. It is too distressing. Unlike looking after an infant, looking after a beloved parent as they deteriorate is depressing. I’ve told my family that when I become demented, as I surely will (I’ve consulted Dr Google), I want them to choose a nice facility – nothing flashy – and have me seated in a corner with the telly on and Vera on a loop. And feed me Tim Tams. For once in my life I won’t have to worry about getting fat. I will have a cheerful, hopefully well paid stranger to attend to my medical and physical needs.

I would love to believe we could have a system where the elderly stay in their homes with appropriate government help and that the extra care that is inevitably needed falls equally on the men and women in the family. We all know that this will not happen. While nursing homes are routinely exposed in the media, and now by the royal commission, it strengthens society’s distaste for institutional care and throws aged care back onto the shoulders of women.

Meredith Burgmann is a former academic, NSW Labor MLC and the founder of the Ernie Awards for Sexism.

Thank you for checking out this news update on QLD and Australian news titled “Aged care is one of the big feminist issues of our time”. This article was shared by MyLocalPages as part of our local and national news services.

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Aged care development to capitalise on ageing population on east coast of Tasmania


There are hopes a new retirement village and nursing home on Tasmania’s east coast will attract and retain more health workers to the regional area.

There are plans for a multi-million-dollar development on an 18-hectare property called Kelvedon Estate, 4 kilometres south of Swansea.

“The minute I saw the view and the position, I just knew it was exactly right,” principal architect John Lewis said.

“To feel that you’re living in a country town but with all the amenities that you need and can afford in your latter years.”

The Tempus retirement village has passed early hurdles after the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council initiated a planning scheme amendment and approved part of the first stage.

The proposal includes plans for a medical evacuation helipad.(Supplied: Tempus Village)

Plans include 140 independent living units, 30 assisted living units and in the future, a 44-bed nursing home, including a dementia ward.

“It will go through to high care, so in a sense, it’s a mini-hospital, although there won’t be operating as such,” Mr Lewis said.

He said the local Swansea GP clinic currently had two doctors and would look to expand to four GPs once the village was built.

There are also plans for a medical evacuation helipad, meaning patients are a 15-minute flight from the Royal Hobart Hospital.

The site will also have an 81-seat theatre, function hall, horse stables, communal workshop, playground and cafe which will all be open to the public.

Proponent Les Walden said the plan was to create something a bit different from other retirement villages.

“Some of them are just like ghost towns even though they’re supposedly full, we didn’t want to reproduce those,” he said.

“I’m sure they all do a good job but we wanted to produce something where people could age well, with home services, that’s pretty much a unique concept as we understand it.”

Mr Walden said the plan was to integrate health services into the local community.

“There’ll be medical rooms that people can use,” he said.

“We think it will attract other medical professionals, and that’s obviously of benefit in medical and economic ways to the community there.”

Health care services ‘under enormous strain’

Population researcher and demographer Amina Keygan said the population of the east coast was definitely getting older.

“Over the last 20 years, the proportion of those over 65 years in Glamorgan Spring Bay has increased from 19 per cent to 33 per cent of the overall population,” she said.

“Comparatively the population of Tasmania as a whole who are over 65 is roughly 20 per cent.”

Amina Keygan sits at a computer screen.
Tasmanian demographer Amina Keygan says any development needs to come with supportive infrastructure.(ABC News: Rick Eaves)

Dr Keygan said retirement villages on the east coast would need to come with supportive infrastructure such as access to medical services to avoid putting a strain on regional health services.

“Our regional health care services are under an enormous strain at the moment, due in part to inabilities to attract and retain health care workers in regional and rural areas,” she said.

“This is in part why the Tasmanian health system relies so heavily on fly-in fly-out locums and specialists.”

Young families welcome too

She said there was an opportunity for healthcare jobs to be created by the developments.

Leanne Dann, real estate agent.
Real estate agent Leanne Dann says the east coast is in the midst of a property boom.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

East coast real estate agent Leanne Dann said she hoped more development would mean more health workers would be attracted to the area.

“We would love to see a lot more young families reside here and enjoy the coastal lifestyle,” she said.

She said there had been a property boom on the east coast, with land and houses selling about twice as quickly as they used to.

Mr Lewis said employment was something the developers were hoping to boost.

“Because we’re not just seasonal, we’re not just the holiday market, we’re there all the time, we’ll be able to offer people long-term careers so that the younger ones can stay here, we hope to train people,” she said.

The project’s current budget is $85 million but will increase by about $40 million when plans for the nursing home are finalised.

The proposed planning amendment, which includes highway access and some construction, will be available for public submissions before it is referred to the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

Thank you for stopping by to visit My Local Pages and seeing this post involving TAS and Australian news called “Aged care development to capitalise on ageing population on east coast of Tasmania”. This news release is posted by My Local Pages Australia as part of our local news services.

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