Date published: 
17 September 2018
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

ALAN JONES:

As you know the federal government has announced, Scott Morrison, a royal commission into the aged care sector. I think this new outfit, Scott Morrison and the team are doing a very, very good job. This is timely. He made the announcement yesterday along with Health Minister Greg Hunt who does a super job in a very difficult portfolio.

He said, Scott Morrison, the royal commission will look primarily at the quality of care for senior Australians in residential and home aged care, but also include the quality of care for young people with disabilities who are living in residential aged care. Now this comes at a time when spending for aged care is at record levels. In 2017-18 the figure will be close to $19 billion dollars, $19 billion and Scott Morrison said that while our aged care sector provides some of the best care, we can do better.

Well there are some dreadful stories about all of this. Now the terms of reference haven’t been announced rightly, they’ll be determined he says in consultation with the community, including residents and their families. The family side is important because aged people don’t often complain, they just think they’re worthless, no one cares about them, they feel intimidated if they do complain. The Health Minister Greg Hunt is on the line in our studios in Canberra, Greg, good morning.

GREG HUNT:

Good morning Alan.

ALAN JONES:

Thank you for your time. Look, what do you say about why we need a royal commission?

GREG HUNT:

Two main reasons, one is to protect, and the second is to prepare. To protect we know that we get magnificent care in the overwhelming majority of cases, our nurses, our carers, our providers. But we also know that as we have shone a light on the challenges and invested more in compliance we have seen an increasing number of cases.

I think that what that shows is that the more we look, the more we find, and therefore now is the moment, particularly with the new Prime Minister, to look directly into this. As well as that, the overall number of people who will be over 85 will grow 3.8 times, nearly four times from 2015 to 2055, so over four decades we will go from 500,000 to 1.9 million over the age of 85. So that means we’ve got a grand national challenge, more investment than ever, more focus on compliance, but you can never care enough, you’ve got to focus on each of these individuals because each life matters.

ALAN JONES:

Good on you.

GREG HUNT:

So we’re determined to take care of those people who built this country.

ALAN JONES:

You used the word then, Minister, compliance. Now, Scott Morrison pointed out yesterday about the Oakden nursing home in South Australia and you’ve described that as one of the greatest disgraces in Australian mental healthcare history.

GREG HUNT:

Yep.

ALAN JONES:

And we’re not going to go into all of that now. Because it goes back for years and years, but can I just make this point to you, there’s an outfit called the Aged Care Quality Agency which is supposed to audit these places, and they received commonwealth accreditation in 2010, 2013, and 2016, which means this stuff was audited and they were ticked off. There’s something wrong with the statutory authorities, surely.

GREG HUNT:

Well two things. Firstly, over the last three years, what the quality agency has done, it’s identified those places at risk, those agencies where there’s a serious risk to residents, and it’s gone from two to twenty-two, to sixty-two cases over the last three years. That’s a very major reason why we’re doing this.

The second thing is, we are shaking up the system already, only last week we passed legislation through the House for stronger, tougher standards. And we also introduced a new bill, a new law, which we hope will get bipartisan support for a new tough cop on the beat. A single aged care and quality safety commission for the first time to have a single tough cop on beat that brings it all together. Our watch, our time, our responsibility.

ALAN JONES:

So people are frightened to complain though Greg. Greg people are frightened to complain because they feel as though there’s nowhere else to go. I mean, retirement villages, are they going to be a part of all of this now? I know the terms of reference haven’t been established yet but in the press release retirement villages weren’t mentioned, they’re a multi-billion dollar sector and they’ve had their fair share of scandals.

GREG HUNT:

So wherever Commonwealth care is delivered, the commissioners will be able to follow that and that care can be delivered in aged care, that care can be delivered in home care, and the home care can be delivered in retirement villages.

And what the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday is, whilst the retirement villages are regulated by the states, if they would like to be part of this we would be very happy. They have the responsibility, so they have to refer, but we are looking at this without fear, without favour, without limits.

ALAN JONES:

And those private sector outfits? Private sector outfits?

GREG HUNT:

This is public, private, not-for-profit…

ALAN JONES:

Right, and the disabled, what about care for the disabled?

GREG HUNT:

So this is a very important question. So many young people or people of all ages with disabilities often find themselves in an aged care facility. They have been expressly identified here. We wanted to look at the best long-term care for them. So really there are two big things here, the protection and the care of those who are currently in facilities, and the long-term planning and preparation over the coming decades. Comprehensible, bringing it all together, for the first time where everything is being looked at once, to lay down the framework. And yes, we’ve got record funding, but it’s always about caring and caring and caring, and doing everything we can to take care of those who helped us.

ALAN JONES:

Good on you. When will it report?

GREG HUNT:

Second half of next year is the expectation. That’ll be finally determined with the commissioners but that’s our expectation now.

ALAN JONES:

Good on you. Good to talk to you and thank you for your time.

GREG HUNT:

Thanks very much Alan.

ALAN JONES:

He does a very good job. That’s him, Greg Hunt, the Health Minister.

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