Calls for Royal Commission sitting on Mid North Coast
THE Royal Commission into Aged Care should hold a special sitting in regional areas, including the Mid-North Coast, according to the Australian Labor Party.
Aged care is an extremely important issue for our region and it is important for local people to participate in the Royal Commission, without having to travel to Sydney or Brisbane.
There are 5,274 people in aged care in on the Mid-North Coast, stretching from the Great Lakes to Grafton.
Just over 50 per cent of people using permanent residential aged care on the Mid North Coast at the middle of this year had a diagnosis of dementia.
The federal electorate of Cowper covering Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and the Mid-North Coast has a high number of older residents - in fact, a quarter of all people in the electorate are aged 65 and older.
"We also have close to 2,500 people working in aged care residential services, representing close to four per cent of the workforce, double the state and national averages," ALP candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward said.
"In recent weeks the aged care crisis has hit home in Northern NSW.
Mr Woodward said 1,160 people are on the aged care waiting list for aged care home packages on the Mid-North Coast.
"This week's Four Corner's expose on the state of Australia's aged care sector showed an industry in crisis and highlighted the urgent need to fix the funding shortfall for aged care," he said.
"The stories that emerged this week were chilling.
"As a community, we cannot stand by and accept that this is the best we can do.
"Industry analysts have claimed that over 40 per cent of aged care facilities around Australian are currently operating at a loss," he said.
"This Federal Government is responsible for taking $1.2 billion out of the sector by reducing funding for the Aged Care Funding Instrument in 2016.
"Sadly, Luke Hartsuyker has clocked off and it will now be left to Labor and the Royal Commission to stand up for aged care residents, their friends and families in Coffs, Port, Kempsey and the Mid-North Coast."
The Aged Care Royal Commission is potentially the first step towards a more viable aged care industry.
"A Royal Commission in itself, however, will not change anything," Mr Woodward said.
"That's why it is vital that the Royal Commission be given the power to make recommendations on critical issues such as staff numbers, working conditions, and funding models."