As a 42 year old, I’m in that stage of life where we go from our parents caring for us to us caring for our parents. It’s a strange transition to make, and you get your first real view of human frailty. I think it’s important that we are all very clear and aware of the challenges that this sector faces. People in this vulnerable time of their lives do have some peculiar challenges, and it’s very important that we address those and that we are upfront about those. I was very glad to see this government call the royal commission. I’m very glad to see that we’ve wanted to address that.
On a personal level, it’s incredibly important to me. My father is currently a recipient of home-care support. He’s one of these grumpy old men—and I’m happy to double down on the ‘grumpy old men’—in need of care, and home care gives him the freedom and ability to live in his own house with some level of control, which I think is so important. I think also of the wonderful home care provided at the Naroo Frail Aged Care Facility, in Warialda. Sadly, far too many members of my family have required care, particularly my grandmother and my Uncle Donald, both of whom required significant care as dementia played a big role in their later years.
But I would disagree with the member opposite’s summation. The Australian government is delivering significant, once-in-a-generation change in the sector through a $17.7 billion reform package. This is already delivering more home-care places and more funding for residential aged care. It’s increasing the amount of time that residents are cared for, whilst strengthening the regulators to monitor and enforce the standard of care. And it’s right that we do this. It’s absolutely right that we meet the needs of our senior Australians, now and into the future, while undertaking the urgent reforms recommended by the aged-care royal commission. There is important work for us to do in this important space, but I’m very proud to be part of a government that is facing that challenge head-on.
The reforms and investments that we’re already seeing are especially important in my electorate of Groom, where more than 25,000 seniors rely upon aged-care services. While home care has an important role to play, as in the case of my father, it’s important that we do not see it as a replacement for residential aged care and that we continue to make strides in that area as well. Ultimately, some people will require 24/7 monitoring, and we need to ensure that high-quality facilities are available to them, no matter where they live, to provide the level of care and support that their families would expect.
That’s why I’m proud this government has made a significant investment into aged-care facilities in my region to upgrade and expand their offerings. I think of Beauaraba Living in Pittsworth. It has received a total of $2.3 million of federal funding, which has assisted it to deliver a $9.1 million upgrade to its facility. I think it’s the best accommodation in Pittsworth. I love to go out there and see the facilities. It’s absolutely fantastic and a credit to the people at Beauaraba and to the amazing staff out there.
This upgrade included the creation of new bed wings and the construction of a new wellness centre. The federally-supported upgrades also included the construction of two 13-bed memory support houses, which will allow Beauaraba to provide dementia care in a specialised environment more commonly known as a house model. The amazing aspect of this approach is that every part of the facility is designed to provide care and comfort to the residents, particularly those who are battling with dementia, from the paintings on the wall to the design of the furniture. There’s an incredible garden space and huge living area, to encourage family members to come in and be part of the experience there for the residents. It’s so important that they keep those relationships alive.
Another example of the government’s commitment to bettering aged care in my area has been the funding provided to Blue Care in Rangeville. This is an $8.9 million investment towards an $18.4 million upgrade, providing a significant boost to that facility.
Toowoomba is projected to have significant growth in its aged-care population over the coming decade. The over-70s are growing at three per cent per annum—a significant rate—and, by 2036, people over 70 will make up more than 19 per cent of the region’s population. I’m glad to see us continuing to invest in this crucial sector in my area.
To view the speech on Hansard go to: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard/Hansard_Display?bid=chamber/hansardr/25467/&sid=0283