ANMF salutes our brave nursing volunteers 

29 July 2020

The ANMF (SA Branch) has paid tribute to the “incredible” bravery and self-sacrifice of the South Australian nurses who have volunteered to travel to Victoria to help stem the COVID-19 tide, primarily in that state’s ravaged aged care sector.

At the same time ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj. Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM has delivered a damning on-air attack on the aged care system, saying it has failed and continues to fail its dedicated but distraught workers.

There are 769 active COVID cases in Victorian aged care sites among both residents and staff, with 99.4% of those in private facilities - in itself an indictment of the privatisation system in which profit appears to take precedence over care.

The first wave of the new batch of up to 50 SA nursing volunteers leaves for Victoria on Friday. They will be deployed to COVID hot spots for up to four weeks, after the Federal and Victorian governments appealed for help.

Ms Dabars praised the bravery of the volunteers, saying they were placing themselves at “direct risk” of exposure and infection. More than 700 health care workers in Victoria have contracted the coronavirus to date.

“So this is a huge personal sacrifice they are taking,’’ Ms Dabars told ABC Radio. “We know that this virus spreads very quickly, we know that it has a devastating and terrifying effect and we also know that it can affect everyone and it can have long-term consequences even if you survive the virus.

“So we are incredibly grateful to them. We do wish this group of volunteers all the very best and a safe and speedy return.’’

On the issue of aged care, Ms Dabars told ABC Radio that lack of resources and staffing had created a situation where aged care workers have been reduced to tears at being unable to provide the level and quality of care they strive to.

She said aged care workers were “fantastic, really dedicated, passionate people. They have the care, the compassion.’’ However, there were simply not enough staff to provide quality care, she said, noting that it was very common to have one Registered Nurse for 100 plus residents.

“What we have been absolutely gobsmacked about locally and nationally is that we have been making really strong submissions to that Royal Commission (into aged care), we have been advocating and agitating at the local level, at the federal level, with all of the political parties of every single persuasion, with individual providers, with representative groups of those providers, anyone who will listen and even those who don’t,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“And despite this and despite the COVID pandemic we have an absolute travesty of a situation here in SA at this time, that people in those aged care facilities are even now cutting shifts and cutting staff, presumably not for care-related issues.’’

Our residential aged care system is a national disgrace, writes Sarah Russell for The Guardian. Read her story here: