Santoro condemns Labor’s fire safety scare campaign
The Minister for Ageing responds to Opposition claims about fire safety preparedness in aged care homes.
View by date:Previous Ministers
PDF printable version of Santoro condemns Labor’s fire safety scare campaign (PDF 25 KB)
18 April 2006
The Labor Party has shown again today that it is prepared to frighten and mislead residents of aged care homes and their families, with outlandish claims about fire safety preparedness, Minister for Ageing Santo Santoro said.
The Opposition spokeswoman for aged care has today made the outrageous and irresponsible claim that hundreds of homes do not meet "basic fire safety standards".
"If Senator McLucas understood the serious issues involved in the Ageing portfolio, she would know that homes cannot operate without meeting basic fire safety standards, which are laid down and enforced by state and local authorities," Senator Santoro said.
"Homes must also submit an annual Fire Safety Declaration to the Department to show they have complied with all relevant state and local fire safety laws in the previous 12 months. Services that do not meet these basic standards are referred to state or local authorities for investigation.
"So it is utterly false to claim that homes are operating without meeting fire safety standards.
"On top of these standards, however, the Howard Government has introduced even more stringent requirements for aged care homes relating to fire-fighting equipment, building standards and staff training, which have been achieved by 2,437 service providers.
"Of the remaining 499 cases, 403 have demonstrated that they have building works under way or in the planning stage which will bring them into line with the guidelines.
"Those remaining 96 facilities - just over three per cent of the total nation-wide - which are yet to indicate a timetable for compliance have been referred to the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency for monitoring and case management.
"Those homes that do not demonstrate to the agency a willingness to meet the high standards set by the Government face serious consequences, including sanctions and the loss of Commonwealth funding.
Senator Santoro also said the Department of Health and Ageing had written to all homes earlier this year asking them to account for the fire safety funding provided by the Howard Government in the 2004/05 budget. Homes have also been reminded regularly of accountability measures attached to the funding, including that they spend the money on measure such as sprinklers or building upgrades.
"The Howard Government put these higher standards in place, and we are committed to enforcing them. It is a genuine pity the Opposition contributes nothing but fear and lies to the debate. Senator McLucas seems to be hell bent on unfairly destroying the reputation of the aged care industry."
Media contact: Malcolm Cole 0408 612 603
When accessing large documents (over 500 KB in size), it is recommended that the following procedure be used:
- Click the link with the RIGHT mouse button
- Choose "Save Target As.../Save Link As..." depending on your browser
- Select an appropriate folder on a local drive to place the downloaded file
Attempting to open large documents within the browser window (by left-clicking)
may inhibit your ability to continue browsing while the document is
opening and/or lead to system problems.
To view PDF (Portable Document Format) documents, you will need to have a PDF reader installed on your computer. A number of PDF readers are available through the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) Web Guide website.