More political clout for aged care cause 

16 December 2021

Labor Senator for South Australia Karen Grogan and SA Greens Senate candidate Barbara Pocock are the latest political figures who have signed the ANMF aged care pledge.

As for the former CEO of the South Australian Council of Social Service and having held a senior advisory role in (then) Federal Minister for Health Mark Butler’s Ministerial Office, Senator Grogan is no stranger to the issues of aged care. 

“The Morrison Government’s response to the Royal Commission and the aged care crisis has been abysmal,” said Senator Grogan adding, “of the 148 recommendations, over half are not being implemented or aren’t being implemented properly.

Ms Pocock, an economist and Emeritus Professor at the University of SA, also signed our ‘ratios for aged care’ pledge back in 2019 as the then candidate for Adelaide, with both her parents in aged care.

“I understand the issues with aged care because I’ve lived it with both my parents,’’ Ms Pocock said. “It’s an important issue to me and our family.

“The care system in Australia generally needs fixing but aged care needs the most work – and there is so much we need to fix.”

Senator Grogan said aged care workers are “exhausted, overworked and under-resourced. As we saw during the pandemic, they lack the resources they need to take care of frail older Australians”.

“I’m pleased to sign the ANMF's aged care pledge for at least one registered nurse on at all times, mandated staffing ratios, greater transparency of funding tied to care and improved wages and conditions for staff.

Senator Grogan has a longstanding history in fighting for Australia’s lowest paid workers, including those in the aged care sector. 

“The Liberals can’t be trusted to pay dedicated aged care workers properly even though the workforce is key to delivering a high-quality aged care system,’’ Senator Grogan said.

“Labor believes aged care workers should be paid more and that there should be more of them. 

“Just recently, we saw the closure of Kindred Living’s Annie Lockwood Court in Whyalla and the pressure it put on staff, residents and families,’’ said Senator Grogan who is the Duty Senator for the regional and rural electorate of Grey.

The ANMF campaign is asking for support for four key actions: 

  1. RN 24/7 – at least one registered nurse on site at all times 
  2. Minimum mandated care hours and the right skills mix
  3. Greater transparency – funding tied to care
  4. Improved wages and conditions

To date, no Members or Senators of the Liberal Party in South Australia have signed our aged care pledge, even though the ANMF (SA Branch) has invited them all to do so. This includes members of the Prime Minister’s cabinet such as Senator Simon Birmingham, who has at best offered one of his policy advisors to meet with the organisation. 

“We are so pleased with politicians and candidates who have so far signed our pledge to fix aged care,” said CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars.

“And although no members from the Federal Coalition have signed up to our pledge, I am hopeful they will in the new year as we all know aged care is such an important issue in the upcoming Federal Election.”

“Labor will continue to consult with aged care workers, their unions and older Australians to ensure aged care workers and residents get a fair go,” said Senator Grogan.

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