Recommendations for Greater Transparency in Aged Care a Positive First-Step, But More Action is Needed

ANMF Media Release, 28 October 2018

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), has welcomed many of a Senate Committee’s recommendations aimed at greater transparency for the country’s taxpayer-funded, for-profit aged care providers.

However, ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, says the Senate Economics Reference Committee did not go far enough in making the big for-profit operators more accountable for the $2.17Billion in Government subsidies they receive and ensuring they use it on safe, best practice care for vulnerable nursing home residents.

“We believe that many of the recommendations lay the foundations for bringing greater transparency into the financial practices of for-profit providers, but more action is needed for us to have a real chance of fixing the crisis in aged care,” Ms Butler said today.

“Looking at all of the evidence that was presented to the Inquiry, the Government and our politicians must realise it’s time to listen to nurses and carers and it’s time to listen to elderly residents and their families – who are concerned that taxpayer funds aren’t being used to provide quality care. And that as a result, far too many nursing home residents are being neglected.

“Evidence to the Inquiry raised questions about the financial and tax practices of the for-profit providers, at a time when they are embarking on ‘cost-cutting measures such as employing too few staff and staff with lower levels of qualifications.’

“What is clear, highlighted in evidence given by the Tax Justice Network Australia, is that for-profit providers certainly have the capacity to employ more qualified nurses and care staff, but are focused on their bottom-line, with some paying little or no tax through their use of complex corporate structures. As the Committee stated, ‘each dollar that is taken for corporate purposes is a dollar that is not spent on the provision of care.’

“So whilst we welcome the Committee’s overall recommendation that for-profit providers be subject to greater transparency and accountability as a positive first step, we don’t believe that politicians should avoid making tough decisions about the practices of for profit aged care providers by deferring the most difficult issues to the Royal Commission.

“Every day we wait for the Royal Commission, more qualified nurses and care staff positions are cut and nursing and care hours slashed. That means that vulnerable residents are suffering without enough staff to care for them, as for-profit providers continue to use their Government subsidies to bolster their bottom line. Residents and their families can’t wait for up to two years for a Royal Commission, they need the Government to act now – to stop their suffering.”

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