Get involved: expert PC panel

We asked a panel of aged care experts to share their views on how the industry should respond to the PC’s draft report.

The release of the long awaited Productivity Commission’s draft report on the care of older Australians last week has been one of the biggest events for the aged care sector in years.

In the lead up to the launch of the report, AAA compiled a panel of aged care industry leaders and stakeholder representatives.

We asked them how the sector should respond to the paper and what opportunities they saw for achieving positive and lasting reform.

Here is some of what they had to say:

“One of the hardest things will be for the sector to hold its nerve and be patient while the details and timetables are worked out. The changes proposed are so far reaching that it is tempting to demand all the answers right now, but this is a great opportunity to contribute to those changes, to make them work for everyone, but especially for older Australians.

“The key challenge is to embrace the opportunity to create a better future for all older Australians, and not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the changes we will all need to make in the way we are used to doing things.”
Barbara Squires, General Manager – Ageing, Benevolent Society

“The sector needs to continue to press for major reform based on the analysis of the Productivity Commission. The National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) brings together the major stakeholders in the sector including staff, consumer groups, service providers, and professionals. This provides an opportunity to develop a unified response to the report while also providing advice on specific aspects of the recommendations that need further development.”
Glenn Rees, CEO, Alzheimer’s Australia

“The greatest opportunity for the sector is to have – as far as possible – a single, committed voice to ensure the major recommendations of the review are implemented.  It is unlikely that there will be an instance where we all agree. We need to be prepared to listen to all sides of the debate while managing our own governance requirements and business models, having accepted that change is inevitable. As the PC has commented – it is after the viability of the industry, not necessarily the viability of each industry participant. For each provider organisation the opportunities lie before us.” 
Wayne Belcher, former CEO, The Bethanie Group

“Everyone needs to be passionate and committed to seeing reform at the end of this process. So the opportunity now is to enhance the thinking of the commission.  We need to accept the challenge of refining and making a positive contribution to the thinking of the commission. It is inevitable there will be gaps and so there is an opportunity for the sector to make a positive contribution.”
Gerard Mansour, CEO, Aged and Community Care Victoria

“We need to be united. The foundations in how to do this were firmly established through the Coalition on the Care of Older Australians and we need to continue this campaign.
“Being clear about transition arrangements is critical. In the early stages of the transition, we need to make sure we have a chance to move gradually to this more deregulated environment because it will be very important for the sustainability of the industry.

“Finally, we can’t let the government off the hook in responding to the short term needs of the aged care industry. It is easy to get swept away about a new future but at the moment, there are major funding issues that have to be addressed in aged care particularly around having a competitive workforce, the indexation of community and residential services and appropriate capital funding for high care services.”
Gillian McFee, Director, UnitingCare Ageing

“The sector has diverse stakeholders making a sector-wide response unrealistic. The issue will not be determined by the sector but by the community and the sector must recognise this or face disappointment.”
Michael O’Neill, CEO, National Seniors

“The sector needs to recognise that this is a package but one which can be fine tuned. A focus on solutions rather than a wallowing in problems should be adopted.”
Greg Mundy, Aged Care Commentator

“The sector needs to work closely with the government to implement these recommendations. The commission is proposing the establishment of an Aged Care Implementation Taskforce and this would be an excellent opportunity for the sector, through representation on the committee, to work with the government, unions, consumer representatives and others to develop and implement a practical implementation plan based on the recommendations.

“The industry has to be vigilant to ensure the recommendations are not watered down by any government response. Particular support needs to be given to the government to ensure it takes a bold approach to some of the funding recommendations which will be unpopular with some segments of our society.”
Sandra Hills, CEO, Benetas

“The sector is already united behind the need for reform, with groupings like the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) playing a key part in this process. The sector needs to work together to ensure the reform process is fair and equitable for workers, consumers and providers of services.

“The challenge for the sector is ensuring that we discuss the breadth of issues that the report canvassed. While the inclusion of the family home has dominated media headlines in the immediate aftermath of the report, we need to ensure that workforce issues of wages and conditions are not forgotten. The industry needs to constantly remind itself that quality care depends upon a well paid workforce that is given the time required to provide the highest levels of care.”
Sue Lines, Assistant National Secretary, LHMU (Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union)

“The key opportunity for the industry is to provide constructive comments on how to build on the positive aspects [of the draft report] and what reshaping is possible for the areas that do not meet our expectations.”
Sharon Davis, Regional Manager NT, Frontier Services

“The response from the sector should be with a wide angled lens, not with a rear view mirror or a silo based approach. The report succeeds in bringing together various threads of aged care; on first reading it is a snapshot which identifies the aims and objectives and proposes a shared view of those aims, objectives and challenges. The report is an opportunity to progress that shared view into a shared vision for the future of the aged and community care sector. The opportunities for the sector include being more consumer directed, simplifying information pathways, improving education and training and developing a dynamic workforce. The sector needs to not just review and reflect but also to respect and respond.”
Rosa Colanero, CEO, Multicultural Aged Care

Comments on the draft report must be submitted to the Productivity Commission by Monday, 21 March 2011. Feedback can be sent to

Tags: caring-for-older-australians, draft-report, policy, producticity-commission, response,

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