South West Rocks’ seniors voiced their views at a forum in South West Rocks with the Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, MP, and local member, Luke Hartsuyker.
“Australians are living longer than ever before and senior Australians want greater control, choice and flexibility when it comes to their care,” Minister Wyatt said.
“I believe we’ve got to stop thinking that we’re old at 60.
“We now have to think about the fact many of us are going to live until we’re 100 plus.
“Hence the legislation ‘Living longer, living better’ is about keeping people within their community, keeping them fit and well, keeping them healthy, so that they don’t have to go into residential care until they really need it.
“These forums are a great way to meet senior Australians and to hear directly from them about what they expect from our aged care system.
“As minister you have to be out on the ground listening to people because if you have a responsibility for a portfolio you can’t just rely on your department.
“You need to go out, meet with people, hear what the issues are, but also talk about the direction we’re taking aged care for the future.”
Minister Wyatt said he would outline the trajectory of aged care through a discussion of the Tune legislative review, the Carnell Paterson review and the taskforce recently established to look at the workforce needed in aged care for the next three decades, before listening and responding to the queries and concerns of attendees.
“They’ll raise issues about retirement villages, some of the fees in aged care, what types of services are available, and how they increase opportunities to grow aged care services in the area,” he said.
“There’ll be somebody who would have had an experience that was not pleasant because they’ve lost somebody.
“They’ll say I’m disappointed with an aspect of what went wrong and what can you as a minister do.
“Elder abuse is another issue that comes up and the Australian Law Reform Commission have just finished a report to the Attorney General on elder abuse in a number of areas, not just in aged care, but in financial structuring, (abuse by) their children.
“I’m working with the Attorney General’s department and with other ministers looking at the government response to how we address the nuances of elder abuse, plus the behaviours that are appalling by some people at times when they do abuse a senior Australian.”
Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said the response to the forum was fantastic, with the 200 people registered to attend demonstrating the high level of interest in the aged care sector.
“The government is absolutely committed to delivering the very best aged care services that we can and offering people the option for the aged car that they choose, whether it be in-home care or in a formal setting.
“People tend to prefer to live at home as long as possible and go into a formal setting when that’s no longer possible, but that’s a matter of choice.
“What the government is about is offering people choice.”
Mr Hartsuyker said the agenda for the forum would be determined by the audience.
“Both Ken and I have been talking about the forum beforehand, and he is firmly of the belief, as am I, that we want to hear from the audience.
“We don’t want to speak at the audience.
“It’ll be a great forum to allow people to raise whatever concerns they may have within the aged care space.
“Representatives from the relevant Federal Government departments will be here to give detailed and expert advice in relation to questions.
“This is about flow of information.
“The world is a complex place and aged care is a very complex policy area, and the ability to meet with the minister and high level officials from the government to give the appropriate advice is a great opportunity for the people of South West Rocks.”