Industry groups and unions have seen Kevin Rudd’s election victory as an opportunity for renewed efforts to address the major issues affecting aged care in Australia.

Following Saturday’s decision, the Aged Care Industry Council (ACIC) issued an open letter to the Prime Minister elect, signaling its intentions to work closely with the new Government to develop a “world class aged care service”.

In the letter, ACIC called for urgent action on funding levels, workforce issues, services for disadvantaged older people and a more efficient approach to regulation.

It also expressed disappointment with the Coalition Government, saying many of the previous seven ministers responsible for Ageing viewed the position as a “stepping stone”.

“Now is the chance for the Rudd Government to put its stamp on this crucial area,” the statement said.

The Australian Nurses Federation (ANF) has also welcomed the chance to work with a new government, expressing optimism for the future of health care.

But the union’s Acting Federal Secretary, Ged Kearney, said the new Government would need to pay more attention to aged care than it did in the lead up to the polls.

“We were very disappointed that aged care didn’t highlight as prominetly as we would have liked as a pre-election issue,” she said.

The ANF has called for immediate action to address the wages gap between aged care and the rest of the healthcare system.

“I think a key problem for the sector is that it cannot compete for trained staff with the rest of the healthcare system. If we really want a high quality of care for elderly Australians we need more qualified staff,” she said.

“Labor did commit to minimum staff ratios in aged care early on its policy platform and we will certainly be working very hard to see that happen.”

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