Not-for-profit aged care organisations have challenged the Labor Government to make sure older Australians are included in his government’s Australian Social Inclusion agenda.
In the lead up to last year’s federal election, the Labor party highlighted that despite close to two decades of economic growth, social disadvantage remained a national problem
In a policy document at the time, it outlined a plan for an Australia where all people can “build a rewarding social and economic life”.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence’s General Manager of Aged and Community Care, Sandra Hills (pictured) has welcomed the policy agenda from the new government, but stressed that a national approach to disadvantage must include strategies to include older citizens.
“If the supports are not in place to assist disadvantaged older people to participate in the life of their community the risk of older people losing their voice and becoming faceless is very real,” she said.
Ms Hills also said that much can be learned from the Blair Labour Government’s approach to social inclusion in the UK.
“Unlike the situation in the UK however, where it took several years for older people to make it onto the agenda, the Brotherhood hopes that…ageing and aged care policy [must be] given higher priority in the development of a social inclusion policy in Australia,” she said.
Aged and Community Services Australia, the national peak body for not-for-profit aged care providers, has also voiced a need for policies which addressing the inclusion of older Australians.
In its federal budget submission, the association said aged care providers need assistance to provide relevant support to elderly people.
“Social exclusion can be more complex for older people as they experience age discrimination, major life events such as bereavement and may have been excluded in other stages of their life,” the submission said.
“Services need to be more responsive to effectively address social exclusion.”
In particular, it called on the government to implement policies to assist older people with indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALDs) backgrounds, as well as those experiencing abuse.
See Sandra Hill’s full opinion in the March/April print edition of Australian Ageing Agenda.