At a parliamentary inquiry into the New South Wales Government’s response to COVID-19, chief executive of Aged and Community Services Australia Paul Sadler blamed Premier Dominic Perrottet’s decision to open up the state for the deaths of hundreds of aged care residents.  

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, Mr Sadler said: “The Government knew that there was an attendant risk for what would happen in aged care, and we all saw the consequences – now over 400 deaths of people in aged care since that decision was taken.”

A decision that Mr Sadler had warned the Government about on numerous occasions. Both ACSA and Leading Age Services Australia wrote to the Premier and NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard in October. Attached was a document, Planning for Life with COVID in Aged Care.

Paul Sadler

“In that document we specifically warned the State Government about the concerns we had about their opening up plans,” said Mr Sadler. “We said we were concerned – this was pre-Omicron – there would be a potential for a greater case of outbreaks in aged care homes and that there would be a greater impact on staff availability.”

In the beginning of December, ACSA and LASA also had regular meetings with NSW department of health staff – often with federal health department staff and aged care quality and safety commission members in attendance.

However, at the parliamentary inquiry on Friday 11 February, both Mr Hazzard and Health Secretary Elizabeth Koff couldn’t recall being given such advice prior to restrictions lifting. “We were certainly looking at all aspects of the community as we always have [but] that information certainly wasn’t something I recollect being at the forefront of discussions,” Mr Hazzard said.

“There was definitely discussion in the first half of December about the risks of opening up,” said Mr Sadler. “There was clearly political pressure – partly self-generated, partly by the community – for the State Government to move in the way that it did,” he added.

When asked by AAA why the warnings were ignored, Mr Sadler said: “That’s something you’ve got to pass back to Brad Hazzard and Dominic Perrottet.”

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  1. We, old people need a government to redress the situation with old people. Australian citizens need to have respect and empathy for the elderly. Everybody will be old at some stage. If the outlook on the elderly changes the younger ones will one day benefit from it themselves will they not? I do not understand how the majority of Australians do not realize that “shortsightedness” is no good in the long run.

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