Labor’s Aged Care Policy announced today will help rebuild Australia’s system of aged care after years of neglect by the Howard Government say health worker unions.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“Labor’s aged care policy will address some of the key issues facing Australia as our population ages.

Labor’s policy is a comprehensive and well-considered response to the challenges facing those providing care in the aged care sector that provides tangible strategies to fix the major problems affecting the sector.

Importantly the policy also recognises that much more planning needs to be done after the Howard Government’s neglect of the sector and a comprehensive review is also welcomed.

More Respite places

Labor is committing $300million in interest free loans for respite care and this importantly includes $100 million towards establishing more appropriate care for the young in aged care facilities.

Skills shortage

The policy addresses the serious skills shortage for nurses and other workers in the sector. The $1,000 training bonus will go a long way to assisting this shortage in specific areas. In association with other measures the creation of 700 new undergraduate nursing places by 2007 will help resolve the current skills shortage. This will have an immediate impact on the quality of care provided to older Australians.

National Review

A national review is essential so that we can establish a better plan for coordinating this complex sector that allows for a joint approach with the States where appropriate. The unions believe that a review will show a need for more places and a more flexible mix of places, including the development of hub facilities and regional facilities.

Benchmark of Care

Unions also welcome Labor’s plan to strengthen accreditation requirements and increase the number of spot checks to ensure a higher standard of care for older Australians and ensure better paid and trained staff are working at best practice standards. These checks are long overdue and will provide a higher quality of care. The establishment of the Aged Care Ombudsman is also welcomed as a further measure towards ensuring a higher standard of care.”

Media Contacts:

  • Sharan Burrow, ACTU President – Susannah Greenleaf 0418 479 455
  • Helen Creed, National President LHMU Aged Care Union, 0403 572 042 or 08
    9388 5400