Nurses take aged care reform debate to Canberra

Aged care nurses and residents travelled to Parliament House in Canberra last month to deliver a united plea to the Federal Government: Make Budget 2010 the aged care Budget.

Representatives from the NSWNA, QNU, ANF branches of Victoria, ACT and South Australia, as well as Federal ANF, took part in the event.

ANF Federal Secretary Ged Kearney, together with 20 concerned aged care nurses and residents, met with Federal MPs and Senators to push for increased funding to improve the aged care workforce.

A press conference was held, in which Ged and two hostel residents spoke to reporters from radio and television. This was followed by a morning tea hosted by Senator Claire Moore, with 18 MPs in attendance. MPs from NSW were Maxine McKew, Chris Hayes, Sharon Bird, Jennie George and Jill Hall.

NSWNA organisers Stella Topaz, Rita Martin and President Coral Levett then delivered bundles of signed Budget 2010 postcards collected in key electorates, including 250 to MP Belinda Neal, 450 to Senator Mark Arbib and 150 to MP Anthony Albanese. This adds to numerous postcards each has also received through the mail or via delegations in their electorates.

The NSW delegation met with Maxine McKew in the afternoon, thanked her for her support and asked that she continue to advocate for the Budget outcome for aged care. Ms McKew was very familiar with the campaign and, through her past involvement in the childcare sector, has a keen understanding of the merits of staffing ratios.

‘Nurses know something has to change in aged care: it will take a decisive stand within Government to fix the system,’ said Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda. ‘Funding must be tied to staffing so that there are enough nurses and other care staff to provide the best care. MPs are hearing this from their constituents who are nurses, residents and family members. The message must translate to action at the 2010 Budget.’

The Because we care campaign will remain focused on the May Budget throughout March, with more Message to My MP postcards being collected and delivered.

An event is also planned for Seniors Week 21-28 March.