Senator Penny Wong and MP Rebekha Sharkie sign aged care pledge  

9 December 2021

Two prominent politicians with actual lived experience of aged care have joined our push to address the ailing sector. 

Federal Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong, a former care worker herself, and Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie have both signed the ANMF campaign pledge to fix aged care.

Senator Wong told ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM that not a lot had changed with staffing and skills mix in the sector since her university student days when she worked as a casual care worker in aged care. 

She also indicated her frustration at trying to access aged care services and reflected how difficult this would be for someone who didn’t have the computer skills or perhaps had English as a second language.

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

Ms Sharkie, the daughter of a former aged care enrolled nurse, said aged care is a priority for her given that the population in her electorate is probably the oldest in the state, if not the nation.

Indeed Ms Sharkie, who grew up surrounded by people engaged with aged care, told Parliament this year, just prior to the Royal Commission into Aged Care’s final report: “I want to see change so that aged care workers are valued, encouraged and supported with decent pay, training and development. 

“I put on notice to the Government that the community will not accept the Royal Commission's report sitting on a shelf and gathering dust, as so many Royal Commission reports have in the past. We need to ensure that the recommendations are acted upon urgently, because older Australians deserve so much better than what they have received with respect to aged care.’’

Said Ms Dabars: “Both Senator Wong and Ms Sharkie have strong insights into the needs of aged care given their respective backgrounds.

“We are thrilled to have them add their considerable clout to the cause.

“The aged care industry has for far too long failed to provide quality care to vulnerable Australians, through no fault of the dedicated staff but rather through lack of resources, adequate staff numbers and appropriate skills mix.

“The ANMF campaign is calling on our politicians to right the many wrongs in an industry so woefully dysfunctional that the Royal Commission found a staggering two-thirds of nursing home residents are either malnourished or at risk of malnourishment.’’ 

Other politicians who have also signed our pledge include Mark Butler, Member for Hindmarsh and Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing; Steve Georganas, Member for Adelaide; South Australian Senator Marielle Smith; Louise Miller-Frost, Labor candidate for Boothby; and former ANMF (SA Branch) President Marisa Bell, the newly endorsed Labor candidate for Mayo.

Get involved with the aged care campaign and send a letter to your local MP urging them to take action