Launch of the Edith Morgan Chair in Aged Care
Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, launches the Edith Morgan Chair in Aged Care at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.
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6 May 2004
Launch of the Edith Morgan Chair in Aged Care,
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
We are honoured to have here today Edith Morgan, for she is a remarkable woman. As Pamela indicated, she was a child of the Depression. She knew hardship, yet she dedicated her life to the betterment of her community. Her city, and her state and society, are so much the better for her work. I am sure her family are very proud of the work that she did in aged care and in helping people in broader social justice issues.
Her name will live on through this Chair. Her legacy will endure and her spirit will remain in all who will be affected by the good work that comes from this Chair.
Professor Barbra Bowers is also with us today, and I am delighted to meet her, and I look forward to a continuing association with her. I think I have it tough flying from Perth to Canberra each week but, Professor, enjoy that trip across the Pacific as you spend half your time here in Australia, and half your time at the University of Wisconsin.
The Professor has an international reputation and wide experience in the area of ageing and will ensure that this Chair receives the status and the reputation that it deserves. A Chair like this could not be established without a partnership, a collaboration, and I congratulate Australian Catholic University, St Vincent's Health and the Ellis Group for ensuring that this Chair could be established.
I am pleased that Nicole Feeley is here today representing St Vincent's Health. It is a fine organisation along with the whole Catholic health sector also. Its origins date back to 1838 when five Irish sisters ? what remarkable women they must have been ? five Irish sisters landed in Sydney to provide a mission for the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged. The Sisters of Charity's work has continued through St Vincent's Health.
I am also pleased that the Ellis Group has become involved in this partnership. Richard does speak his mind ? I recall the occasion well when we first met. Ellis Residential Care is known for its approach to residential care in terms of excellence and innovation and I am pleased that they are able to be part of this so that we have a collaboration between academics, and research, and the health system and the residential aged care sector.
I believe that aged care is coming of age in this country. Others here today have talked about their visions. The Australian Government has a vision for aged care. We hope for a system of aged care that is world class, that is of the highest quality, that is affordable and accessible to older Australians wherever they live, whatever their personal circumstances and that will respond to their individual needs. We know that we cannot realise the vision alone and that we need to work in collaboration with older Australians and their families, and carers, and with the providers, and their staff, and with teaching institutions. We know that older Australians want to remain at home for as long as possible, to remain independent, self reliant and mobile. If they need care they would prefer to receive it at home in their community. If they need residential care, obviously it has to be affordable and accessible.
Their families, their carers want the peace of mind to know that the security and wellbeing of their loved ones is taken care of. The providers? The providers want the certainty of Government support, they also want the certainty of rules and regulations, but they want the flexibility to be able to deliver high quality care to meet the needs of their residents.
The staff? The workforce in aged care? What a precious resource we have in this country, with such a dedicated and committed aged care workforce. They need and deserve recognition and reward for the work that they do, and the knowledge that there is a worthwhile and fulfilling career path for them.
The Australian Government? We are the trustees of taxpayer funds and we have to ensure that the subsidies, the funds that we put into aged care in this country are expended in an accountable and transparent way with the interests of older Australians paramount.
I can assure you that aged care is a priority for this Government. That is why we have doubled funding in aged care from some $3 billion, when we came to office in 1996, to some $6 billion today. (I can already feel Francis Sullivan looking at me to see if I will be able to make a pre-Budget announcement. Not today, Francis.)
It is why we have focused on Home and Community Care. We have increased funding in Home and Community Care by some 70 per cent. Some $700 million of the Federal Budget is allocated to Home and Community Care so that at any one time 700,000 older Australians can receive Home and Community Care at home.
That is why we have focussed on Community Aged Care Packages and increased funding by some 800 per cent in Community Aged Care Packages, so that now $300 million is allocated to ensure that some 27,000-28,000 older Australians can receive low-level residential care, but at home.
And it is why we have focussed on carers as an important resource to ensure that carers are able to receive respite and support and nearly $98 million is now allocated to a national carers program.
It is why we have increased residential care subsidies from some $2 billion to $4.5 billion today. It is why we have focused on the workforce and allocated some $47-48 million in training and education for the aged care workforce. We have offered about 1,200 aged care scholarships in undergraduate, postgraduate, continuous professional development areas to ensure that we have a skilled and professional aged care workforce.
That is why we have allocated some 55,600 new aged-care places across Australia to meet the demands of our ageing population.
We also know that research is the key to developing this nation's aged-care capacity. We have a project called Building Ageing Research Capacity, BARC, and that project is emphasising collaboration, both nationally and internationally, and the dissemination of research information and collaboration between different researchers to ensure that we can be at the forefront of ageing research in this country.
Recently our Department of Health and Ageing identified 13 national priorities in aged research. They ranged from clinical issues, such as neurodegenerative conditions and pain management, to care issues such as nutrition and physical activity, through to operational issues involving workforce education. It should come as no surprise to those in the aged-care sector that the highest priority in terms of quality research has been given to dementia. Indeed, over half the residents of aged care homes in Australia have been diagnosed with some form of dementia. It is estimated there are 170,000 people in Australia with this condition. Its prevalence will increase, it is estimated, by some 250 per cent over the next 40 years.
Recently, I was very pleased to learn that Australian Government funding is having some outcomes in this area. Professor Jillian Kril at Sydney University has made some groundbreaking discoveries in identifying fronto-temporal dementia. That was as a result of a $437,000 grant by the Australian Government over three years which we have been able to extend for another three years, another $410,000, to ensure that this sort of work can continue.
We have an ageing population. There will be increasing demand in the area of aged care. There are as many opportunities, I hope, as challenges. There are so many clinical and care issues that we have to grapple with. How effective are the diagnoses for chronic and complex conditions in older Australians? What are the best mechanisms for delivery of care at home and ensuring continuity of care? How can we reach out to older Australians and their carers in rural and regional Australia? There are so many things we have to learn.
That is why I am so pleased to be involved in the establishment of this Chair by being here today. I hope that the commitment and dedication of those involved in this Chair, Professor Bowers and her team, will help ensure that this nation is a better place for all, particularly our older Australians.
It gives me great pleasure to formally launch the Edith Morgan Chair in Aged Care Australian Catholic University.