UnitingCare Australia has welcomed the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety as an important step towards combatting ageism and recognising the inherent value and potential of each individual.
After 10 months of gathering evidence, the Commission’s Interim Report found elderly people were being inexcusably let down and neglected by “a sad and shocking” aged care system “that diminishes Australia as a nation”.
In thanking the Commissioners for the report, UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said that unfortunately there was nothing surprising about these findings.
“The report reinforces what is needed is comprehensive change,” Ms Little said.
“We join in the Commissioners’ call for systematic and cultural change. Australia has had too many selectively implemented responses from Government, based on politics rather than the best interests of the vulnerable individuals who depend on the system.”
Ms Little drew special attention to the report’s “fundamental” finding of widespread unconscious ageism in the community.
“Ageism sees older people as a burden on society. It fails to recognise the inherent value of each person irrespective of their age or how they contribute,” she said.
“Ageism is reflected in the current aged care system by the assumption that it is acceptable for older people to wait for needed care and support. It is also inherent in funding for the highest levels of care only being available to people willing to be isolated in, or from, their communities.”
Ms Little said the next stage of the Royal Commission would be a rich opportunity to consider how services can be delivered in a way that is affordable and meets community expectations.
UnitingCare Australia has developed its own report Ageing to our full potential – preparing for an older Australia, which outlines the agency’s vision for an aged care system that is sustainable and puts the rights of the individual first.
“Members of marginalised communities already experience disadvantage, which generally becomes progressively worse as they age,” Ms Little said.
“This is our opportunity to pull together. As a country we can afford to invest in ensuring that every Australian can live to their full potential.”
UnitingCare Australia is the national body for the Uniting Church’s community services network in Australia, supporting 1.4 million people each year across urban, rural and remote communities.