The Tasmanian hearing of the Senate inquiry into aged care has highlighted a growing rift between aged care providers and the Department of Health and Ageing.

Transcripts from the March hearing which were made public this week reveal a poor relationship between the department and providers.

Aged and Community Services Tasmania President Susan Parr described the department as “abusive” and “exploitative”.

“I think it is an almost incestuous relationship between the regulatory, the funding, the planning and, indeed, the punitive aspects of the department.

“In fact, I would characterise the relationship of the department to the sector as abusive and exploitative.

Ms Parr suggested that providers do not receive adequate respect from Canberra.

“It starts with the political impetus,” she said. “The industry is regularly subjected to cheap shots in single instances, and then a whole raft of regulation comes with that. The department, I am sure, is doing what it is instructed to do.”

“But, again, the question about how [that] is done would raise some concerns for me about how it might be done well—that is, with courtesy, with respect and honouring the fact that providers have been providing services for 63 years or more.”

The apparent rift was confirmed by West Australian Greens Senator, Rachel Siewert who said she had heard varying accounts from the department and providers.

“We are getting two distinct pictures, one from the department and one from all the providers that we have spoken to,” she said.

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