It is time for people working in and families using aged care services to recognise that ignoring aged care issues is unacceptable. Jeff Kennett, Chairperson of Beyond Blue was a keynote speaker at the national ACSA Conference in Melbourne on the 11th November. Jeff Kennett challenged the sector to fight strongly, loudly and relentlessly with the politicians and our communities to ensure we do not remain silent as a country on the long term needs of our older Australians.
The move towards consumer directed care is edging closer towards realisation – a laudable objective. Jeff Kennett said: “The danger is that we run the risk of promising the world to the new consumers being created, offering unlimited choices for everyone while there is little capacity to deliver as both resources and money are limited and people will become increasingly frustrated, cynical and demanding as entitlements do not arrive.”
Our willingness to speak clearly and honestly is becoming harder as we try and juggle people’s expectations and respond to the vague promises that never quite give what is needed. It isn’t just in aged care that this is happening, but also in other community services, such as disability and mental health.
The good will is very much alive in the community benefit organisations, which are excited by what services could be if they had a chance to make it work, but optimism is also in very short supply – like money and staff. The policy settings to make this work by Governments are unrealistic and the community organisations simply do not have the resources to hold the services alive if the marketplace is distorted by for-profit motives. How do organisations survive if the poor and vulnerable do not bring enough with them to make ends meet for the organisations, while governments continue to say ‘let the market prevail and set the rules’. The poor will fall through the cracks in the system as the community organisations exit the sector. We need to improve the resourcing and care better for our frail and vulnerable citizens.
Jeff Kennet’s message for providers, workers and governments was ‘don’t promise the world because the people will reach for it and find it isn’t there!’
Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris, CEO