Disunity is death

Unite or be ignored by the government: The 20th Tri-State Conference, Albury, opened with a timely cry for sector unity, in the lead up to the release of the PC’s final report.

Above: President of Aged and Community Care Victoria, Valerie Lyons

By Yasmin Noone

Aged care’s two peak bodies must reach a consensus on the key issues in the lead up to the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report in June, or else face the risk of being ignored by the federal government.

President of Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV), Valerie Lyons, opened the 20th Tri-State Conference in Albury with this rallying cry for sector unity, and urged providers, unions and consumer groups to continue to work collaboratively through the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA).

“Disunity is death,” Ms Lyons said.

ACSA (Aged and Community Services Australia) and ACAA (Aged Care Association Australia) have to have as much consensus as possible.

“The risk is simple. If we do not, it will be seen to be risky.”

She said that if unity is not achieved then it will be “too easy for the government then to ignore and override us”.

“Everyone in the room needs to [reach] consensus, as much as possible.

“…There can be no assumption that there will be [a commitment to] change from the government.”

The binding cause that unites all parties, she said, is older people and the ongoing fight to guarantee them access to sustainable aged care services.

“Never before has aged care been so important on a national stage. 

“…Let’s never underestimate the power of our voice as an active voice and advocate for older people.”

Ms Lyons spoke of the PC’s inquiry into aged care as a valuable opportunity for change.

Reform, while it is not a given, can happen. She encouraged the sector to provide as much input on the draft report as possible to the PC.

“There is no doubt that some refinement is needed. What is pleasing is the open approach of the PC, which welcomes input and refinements.”

She called on attendees to focus on “the journey ahead, not the journey behind us. That’s the challenge”.

“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

Tri-State Conference spokesperson and CEO of ACCV, Gerard Mansour, agreed that the time to act is now.

“In its current form, the aged care industry cannot cope with the predicted peak of older Australians.

“Just one example of this includes information released by the federal Department of Health and Ageing which says in the next 14 years the industry needs an investment of $17 billion for the construction of buildings to house our older Australians alone.”

“The industry is on uncertain and unsustainable footings. As a cornerstone to the future sustainability of any system, those Australians who can afford to make a financial contribution to their frail years must do so, and government must provide an appropriate safety net for those who cannot afford to do so.

“Similarly, our older Australians should have the choice of aged care they want, when and where they need it. If we don’t have a sustainable industry, older Australians can’t have the choice of the services they need.”

He stressed the urgency of government action on the issue to protect the interests of older, frail Australians.

“To not act on the Commission’s recommendations would be dire for the industry and the aged.

“The industry wants a definitive investment in long term reform to ensure the future care of older Australians.”


Tags: 20th-tri-state-conference, acaa, accv, acsa, aged-care, ageing, department-of-health-and-ageing, naca, older-australians, productivity-commission, valerie-lyons,

2 thoughts on “Disunity is death

  1. ‘Sector unity’ is important (possibly not life threatening!) but reaching agreement between provider peak bodies isn’t a guarantee that it will be achieved. Reading through the hundreds of submissions there’s a variety of opinions for decision makers to choose from and vocal providers, not to mention other stakeholders, will not hold back from expressing a contrary view if they don’t agree with the peaks’ consensus. This is particularly true if consensus is too much like ‘compromise’. Like most things this requires balance between unanimity and quality of argument, that’s the real challenge facing the aged care sector.

  2. Having worked in the health and welfare sector for over 30 years this is so true – for government’s to take action they need to hear as united a voice as possible. If the voice is not united then they are provided with an opportunity to do nothing – letting the sector cannibalise itself internally. This is not good the older people who desperately need and deserve a better service system.

    Dr Ralph Hampson
    Ralph Hampson Consulting

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