Aged care consumer groups have lashed out at both the current federal government and the Coalition, publically condemning each side of politics for avoiding the issues associated with an ageing population in the lead up to the election.

National Seniors Australia, the Association of Independent Retirees (AIR) and the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils (FECCA) united outside Parliament House in Canberra this week to symbolically demonstrate how dissatisfied older consumers were with the election promises made thus far.

National Seniors estimated that the older consumer  vote represents around 45 per cent of the Australian electorate. Of that, 25 percent or 1.5 million are said to still be undecided voters.

CEO of National Seniors, Michael O’Neill, said that despite the figures, older Australians have still been ignored.

“We don’t think the election has seen sufficient focus on the big issues confronting older Australians,” said Mr O’Neill. 

“…We’ve had a few crumbs but where are the big issues such as dental health and nursing homes?
 
“Aged care hasn’t had adequate attention in terms of the challenge it presents to the nation. It is disappointing that it has not received the attention that it deserves.”
 
According to Mr O’Neill, the election campaigns of both the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition have evaded the tough issues and have, disappointingly, focused on personalities rather than policies.

“Disillusioned older Australians, rather than voting along traditional lines, are seriously considering third party options,” he said. 

“Older Australians desperate and eligible for aged care either at home or in a facility can’t get it because of waiting lists. Where do they go from there? None of the politicians are talking about it.”

The politicians in question, he said, have willingly chosen to steer away from the issue, assumingly because they do not think that the votes of older Australians count.

“There is a level of embarrassment from both sides of politics…The issue of an ageing population has been around for decade or more and there has been no adequate response from either side.

“There has been no willingness to focus on aged care and provide a way forward for it.”

In a final message to whoever it is that will lead the country after the votes are tallied this Saturday, Mr O’Neil said: “Which ever party forms a government should expect that aged care will be an ever increasing shadow to deal with that will just grow bigger and bigger.

“Aged care will be one of the issues that you need to confront whether you like it or not, for both the immediate future and the long-term, in order to have a sustainable sector that delivers quality care.

FECCA chair, Pino Migliorino, highlighted the importance of cultural issues into the aged care policy equation. 

Mr Migliorino said that cultural barriers facing seniors from migrant communities make matters worse when it comes to income security, participation and care.

It is for this reason that any future political discussion regarding the fate of older Australians must also address the cultural and linguistic diversity of seniors.

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