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Minister for Health Greg Hunt. Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Ageist culture must change: Hunt

Australia has to take responsibility to overcome its “cultural” problems around aged care, the federal health minister has said.

Greg Hunt said a damning interim report from the aged care royal commission revealed a “national cultural issue”.

Labor has set a “deadline” for the government to take immediate action on the royal commission’s interim recommendations before the senate returns on November 11.

But in announcing the campaign in northern Tasmania on Sunday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese didn’t detail what would happen if the government missed that deadline.

He said Labor would be collecting signatures for a petition to present to parliament.

In its report released Thursday, the commission called for an overhaul of the system, labelling it a “cruel lottery” and a “shocking tale of neglect”.

It wants immediate action to cut home care waiting lists, stop the overuse of drugs to sedate residents and to stop younger people with disabilities living in aged care.

Hunt told Insiders on the ABC both the government and community needs to draw a “line in the sand” on ageism in Australian society.

“What the commission found, which went beyond anything that I had expected, was a national cultural issue,” Hunt told Insiders.

He said the country had a challenge: to deal with an “ageist society”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already promised more money for the sector before Christmas.

Hunt wouldn’t elaborate on Sunday, but promised it would be a “significant” amount.

The health department has estimated about $2.5 billion was needed per year to address a 120,000 person long waiting list for home care packages.

“It will be a significant package so I won’t pre-empt it,” Hunt told the ABC.

In terms of restricting the use of chemical and physical restraints on aged care residents, Hunt said the government was working to make sure it had the “right response”.

The commission also wants aged care homes to publish data on their use of physical and chemical restraints.

Albanese said the government needed to increase funding for home care packages, stop young people going into aged care and stop chemical restraints being “used and abused” in aged care homes.

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One comment

  1. Interesting – everyone is focused on stopping younger people with a disability going into aged care facilities Why is it that there is not an intention to support older Australians to transition back to community with supports equal to those under the NDIS? Yes this is ageism perpetuated from the Royal Commission its self. The aged are no less entitled to appropriately funded community care and transitioning back to community than younger people and yet aged care packages are funded for very minimal hours and not 24 hour care as is NDIS. The Government needs an equitable system for all people requiring care and support not one divided by age.

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