Aged care and Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group

03 September 2020


Constituent Statements, Federation Chamber, House of Representatives, Australian Parliament House, Thursday 03 September 2020.

Aged Care & Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group

Mr DAVID SMITH (Bean) (11:16): Last night, I participated in a Health Services Union facilitated link-up with aged-care workers from community and residential care in New South Wales and ACT. They came after long a day at work. Those workers are on the front line and, to be frank, are doing it tough. The clear message was that the time for empty thankyous is over and we need solutions and decisive action. Our aged-care sector desperately needs more staff with greater training and higher pay.

As those in the link-up said, for too long the system has relied on the goodwill of an underpaid and undervalued workforce. Labor has already outlined some immediate steps the government must take to start the process of fixing Australia's broken aged-care system.

These include:

  • minimum staffing levels;
  • reducing the Home Care Package waiting list;
  • ensuring better transparency and accountability;
  • ensuring every residential aged-care facility has adequate PPE;
  • better training for staff, including on infection control; and
  • a real surge workforce strategy.

The government's failings are well documented and have been nothing short of tragic. There have been over 400 deaths of aged-care residents and over 800 active cases of COVID-19 in residential care. Staff and community in residential care are under enormous pressure and need action now.

The other matter I wish to quickly address is the recently formed Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group, which I co-chair along with Senator Wendy Askew. The friendship group has been established to help raise awareness of the challenges faced by over 3.7 million Australians living with sometimes multiple chronic pain conditions daily. As we face unprecedented times, with unprecedented health challenges, it can be difficult for some of the most vulnerable in our communities to locate and access pain services—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Claydon): Are all members of government leaving the chamber?

Mr DAVID SMITH: What a disgrace! What a disgrace! Obviously, they do not care about pain management across the community. Deputy Speaker, what an absolute disgrace.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the member for his contribution.