- The Guardian
- Issue #1998
On Tuesday, 1st March, over 100 workers, unionists, and community members gathered at the front of Gladys Liu’s office in Burwood, Victoria. Their mission was to demand aged care ratios in the private aged care sector. Currently, there are no mandated ratios in the private sector of aged care.
The date marked one year since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety report was published. The rally was organised by the Victorian Branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC). A sea of red ANMF shirts and orange We Are Union shirts filled the entire front of Gladys’ office, taking up the steps to the building and the nature strip out in front.
Unfortunately, Gladys was not there to hear the stories of aged care workers or community members. As soon as ANMF officials turned up to set up the rally, Gladys got into her car and zoomed away with her tail between her legs.
The rally for aged care also had an electoral message to the community. That message was to put the Liberals last in the upcoming federal election. ANMF is calling on “all politicians in the next federal election to make aged care reform a priority.” VTHC volunteers and organisers have also been campaigning tirelessly in the Chisholm swing-seat to put Liberals last.
Another demand from the rally was to push private aged care providers to have at least one registered nurse on site twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
I do not doubt we have all heard the shocking stories that have come out of the Royal Commission or have a personal story of how private aged care has not delivered quality of care for our friends and family. One such story that was raised by ANMF speakers at the rally was how the number of urinary tract infections is increasing in private aged care centres. There are not enough workers to make sure that residents are getting enough water.
Often the nurses and personal care assistants at these facilities are exploited migrant workers in hostile workplaces. This adds an extra dimension to the issue because it is harder for the workers to organise themselves in their union and demand change. They need the strength of the community and other workers behind them to push for the conditions they deserve.
Residents of aged care have spent their entire lives working, only to be left behind by our government in their final years. It’s time for the government to show some respect for our family and friends as well as the workers who take care of them. It’s disgusting the government contributes to eighty per cent of the funding of these private aged care facilities with taxpayers’ money. Where is all this money going? These fat-cat private aged care owners are siphoning off public money and lining their pockets with it! Public aged care have mandated ratios, but are dwindling in numbers.
Ratios now! Fund public aged care!
Head to www.itsnottoomuch.com to find out how you can support the ANMF’s four demands for aged care reform.