Speech at the Economic and Social Outlook Conference – November 2, 2022

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Media event date:

November 2, 2022

Date published:

November 3, 2022

Spectators:

General public

Hello and thank you Jenna Clarke for the introduction and thank you to the Melbourne Institute and The Australian for having me here today.

I honor the traditional owners of this land on which we meet, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and honor past, present and emerging elders.

I express this respect to all First Nations people who are with us today.

Together, Australians stand on the shoulders of 1,600 generations of First Nations people and this is our shared history.

Uncle Alex, a First Nations elder from Turrbal and Jagera country who I represent in the Australian parliament, would say “Wun-ja-na!

Which means “May the spirits keep you well”.

I am proud to be part of this government committed to the Heart of Uluru Declaration, in its entirety.

I would also like to thank the members of the panel this afternoon:

Peter Scutt, co-founder and CEO of Mable

Associate Professor, Jongsay Yong, Principal Investigator, Melbourne Institute

It is an honor to be here among the brightest thinkers and most influential political leaders in the country to work together on our vision for the nation and discuss our vision for senior care.

As some of you may know, I worked in a nursing home in my early twenties, pushing the tea cart after my college classes.

I chose this job because my mother also worked at the retirement home.

The role taught me humility and showed me levels of compassion I might not have known otherwise.

The world has changed a lot since then, and so has elderly care… in many cases, even if it has stagnated.

I vividly remember Mom struggling to manage the roster, not having enough workers to cover the shifts…unfortunately the labor situation only got worse.

I want to be honest with all of you today…elder care is in crisis.

We inherited a mess after almost a decade of inaction.

But we are on the road to reform and already passing laws. We have already responded to 37 Royal Commission recommendations in just five months.

We work hard to improve senior care for those who receive care and those who provide it.

THE BOOMERS ARE COMING

However, unless we are looking for innovative models of care.

Unless we embrace creativity, technology and international best practice… we will not be prepared for the greatest impact on elderly care in this century.

Baby boomers.

We are on the verge of the next great test of our aged care system – the Boomer generation.

Born between 1946 and 1966, baby boomers fundamentally changed every industry they came across.

Now it’s the turn of elderly care.

Baby boomers believe it is their duty to change the world.

In 2026… the first baby boomers will be 80 years old.

They told us loud and clear that they wanted to stay at home as long as possible.

At some point, some will turn to residential care for the aged – and they will expect a level of care they have worked hard for for a lifetime. A level of care
they won.

Now, I’m not saying baby boomers are going to dismantle the senior care system.

What I am saying is that they expect us to do the work today that will put older Australians at the center of the aged care system.

It should be the wait.

The baby boomer period spans 20 years, it’s not a rogue wave.

It will be a rising tide that swells for a decade or more before peaking.

Some estimates suggest that the demand for high levels of care, including residential care, will increase by 5-9% each year as baby boomers age.

The current number of elderly residents is approximately 200,000; by 2040, there will be nearly 350,000, despite the inevitable increase in home care.

We can’t sandbag against this tide. We need to build structures that protect us.

INNOVATION MUST PROGRESS

The Royal Commission on the Quality and Safety of Care for the Aged has given us a blueprint for where to start.

Innovation must thrive.

As government, we have our ideas, informed by an expert civil service, but there is great potential to contribute to innovative change among providers and frontline workers.

Two weeks ago I visited Ryman Care’s Murray Halberg village in Auckland and saw first hand their continuum of care model… in which retirement living is mixed with home care services, apartments and care facilities for the elderly.

This allows residents and partners to stay in the same village as their changing needs are met.

I’ve also heard good things about Korongee Dementia Village in Tasmania…Korongee uses a tiny house model and a bespoke matching process where surveys inform which type of tiny house is best for you.

The village resembles a typical Tasmanian neighborhood and reflects Dementia design principles, including multiple visual cues for easier navigation.

This village is based on the revolutionary Hogewyk model in the Netherlands, a model that seeks to deinstitutionalize care for the elderly.

The Hogeweyk model brings people together based on similar lifestyles and the village includes a pub, restaurant, theater and supermarket.

These are examples of burgeoning innovation.

Together we can seek better solutions at home and abroad.

Australian aged care providers know their stuff, they see the challenge ahead.

So at every opportunity I want to hear those ideas.

THE 2022-2023 BUDGET

But… I can hear your brain’s collective question… what do we do about it?

We came to government with a plan to restore the quality, dignity and respect of care for the elderly.

Just last week we cemented 24/7 nursing care in nursing homes for the elderly, and earlier this year we legislated the AN-ACC, which will allow us to impose an average of 215 minutes of care per day for residents from October 2024.

We have also pledged to fund the outcome of the Fair Work Commission ruling and filed a request to support a pay rise for our senior care staff.

Analysis by the National Skills Commission suggests that even a permanent 10% wage increase would halve the labor gap for the entire care and support sector by 2050.

Our recently announced 2022-2023 budget helps facilitate this new era of senior care.

Our $3.9 billion investment responds directly to 23 recommendations of the Royal Commission.

CONCLUSION

We must and we will do more.

We are in a global search for innovation, which begins right here in this room.

The challenge is before us – the Albanian government is working alongside older Australians, the aged care sector, our carers and the Australian people – you.

We need to co-design a new senior care architecture, because as baby boomers age, our challenge will become greater.

Thanks.

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