Prejudice and paternalism have to go

A submission to the Senate Inquiry into aged care urges decision makers in Canberra to move beyond the paradigms of prejudice and paternalism.

One of the founding directors of Eden in Oz has called for ‘culture change’ within the Department of Health and Ageing in a submission to the Senate Inquiry into aged care in Australia.

The CEO of Sundale Garden Village, Glenn Bunney said in his submission that aged care policy has been characterised by the twin paradigms of prejudice and paternalism for over a decade.

“The whole thrust of the Aged Care Act 1997 is engendered with the ultimate authoritarian twist,” said the submission, “which is surely…inconsistent with the need for forward movement in our policy framework in an ever changing environment.”

The submission warned that ‘command and control’ attitudes and a lack of trust in Canberra meant that the needs and aspirations of older people are at risk of being compromised.

“A continuation of the existing regime and legislative framework will commit our nation to failure,” the submission said.

“Australia has fallen behind our international counterparts in the planning and structure for older people, ironically often on the basis of initiatives that have been formulated by Australian service providers.

“Ignoring the realities of the situation, or ‘shooting the messengers’ will not improve the situation.”

The strongly-worded submission came with a number of recommendations which amount to a radical overhaul of the existing system.

It urgently recommends that the Conditional Adjustment Payment (CAP) be continued in the next federal budget.

The Sundale submission also calls for the introduction of a code of conduct for departmental staff members who visit facilities.

In the medium term, the submission supports the establishment of a working party made up of consumer and industry representatives to develop a new aged care framework that would replace the Aged Care Act.

Looking further into the future, Mr Bunney recommends that the Senate review the experience of other countries in consumer-directed care.

Over 100 submissions were received by the inquiry. Click here to see a complete list.

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