As Australia faces the challenges of an ageing population, Tony Abbott’s decision to pare back ministerial titles could spell trouble for the future of older Australians.
The above story is from 2013.
It contains the plain truths about what the pandemic has exposed in the aged care sector. But you could go through every sector and come to the same conclusion.
In 2010 Treasury released its Intergenerational Report, Australia to 2050 (PDF). The report concluded that a failure to act now to tackle intergenerational challenges would result in ‘severe economic, fiscal and environmental consequences’.
Ageing and aged care are now silent in the portfolio mix, subsumed under ‘Social Services’. This says to incoming minister Kevin Andrews and assistant minister Mitch Fifield that these areas are only part of his job, not his primary focus. This says to key stakeholders in aged care that their sector is going to have to fight for a seat at the table, rather than being guaranteed one. Most importantly, this says to older Australians that their wellbeing is not a priority for the Government. If something is a priority you name it as a priority.
That was not all Abbott did. He put a stop to over 2 billion in extra funding for the sector allocated by the previous Labor government.
As the death toll rises, let us not forget that it was all preventable.
We cannot go back to business as usual. It is not good enough. It was never good enough.
How you rise from adversity determines to some extent, whether or not you will avoid future adversity. Now is the time to reset our national priorities, our long and short term goals, our relationships and our economic levers.
It we fail to take the opportunity, we will have failed to take the one good thing we could possibly take out of a real annus horribilis while almost certainly ensuring many more to come.