The ANMF has had a busy month campaigning to fix the crisis in aged care.
On International Nurses Day, thousands of nurses, midwives, carers and members from the community gathered at events around the nation, calling on federal politicians to legislate staffing ratios in aged care.
I attended the ANMF Vic Branch Rally in Queens Park, Moonee Ponds, where it was pleasing to see not only union members but also concerned families and members of the community, showing their passionate support for nurses and carers in nursing homes who are struggling to cope as a result of chronic understaffing.
Speaking to an inflamed crowd, ANMF Vic Branch Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick, recently elected federal politician Ged Kearney, Senator Derryn Hinch and I expressed our disgust at the shameful state of the sector and our determination to fight for vulnerable older Australians.
Media coverage of events around the country continued to fuel an angry community and within hours of the national events, thousands of people had signed up to support ratios in aged care on the ANMF website.
Additionally this month the ANMF released a report prepared by the Tax Justice Network Australia on tax avoidance by for-profit aged care companies.
The data showed the country’s top six for-profit providers received over $2.17 billion in government subsidies – 72% of their total revenue – and made profits of $210 million during 2016 and 2018.
As a result of the report a Senate Inquiry into the financial and tax practices of for-profit aged care providers was announced. The Inquiry will see the Senate Economics Reference Committee investigate for-profit aged care providers’ use of tax avoidance or aggressive tax minimisation strategies, the associated impacts on the quality of care and sustainability of the sector, whether providers are accountable for their use of taxpayer money and if current practices meet public expectations. The news section in this month’s ANMJ outlines this report.
Despite the momentum of the campaign, it was disappointing that the recent federal Budget 2018–19 delivered nothing to alleviate the chronic understaffing in the aged care sector.
The only way to ensure safe staffing levels is to tie government funding to the provision of care, yet this budget indicates the government is currently not prepared to guarantee this.
This, however, has not deterred us in the least. We will continue to fight until the government mandates minimum staff ratios in aged care.
It is important everyone backs this campaign. You can do this by signing up for campaign updates and signing the petition: anmf.org.au/campaign/entry/ratios-for-aged-care
Your invaluable support will make all the difference to nurses and carers working in aged care, older Australians living in aged care facilities, families and loved ones.
To read more articles from ANMJ, view the full journal online at issuu.com/australiannursingfederation/docs/anmj_june_2018_issuu