By mid-century Australia will need almost one million aged care workers. That means almost five per cent of our entire national workforce will be engaged in caring for the burgeoning ranks of the old and frail.
Yet, today, we are struggling to maintain an aged care workforce just one quarter that size, leaving many vulnerable, elderly Australians at the mercy of rushed, impersonal “work flows” and a constantly changing roster of carers—and raising the dreadful prospect of “warehousing” the aged into the future, with little more than perfunctory physical care.
This should not come as a surprise. The entry level award wage for personal carers, for example, is significantly lower than the award for new zookeepers charged with the well being of animals.
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Sue O’Reilly, who has guest written today’s column on The Angry Cripple is a freelance journalist and the mother of a 21-year-old son with cerebral palsy. She co-founded Australians Mad as Hell last year with Fiona Porter to campaign for an NDIS and established a charity called Fighting Chance to help people with disabilities pay for essential therapy services.
The other day, amid all the reactions to the Productivity Commission report recommending a radical new national disability care and support scheme, a reader of this column made what struck me as a
most intriguing comment.
Somebody calling him/herself NEFFA wrote: “Why don’t you all move to Cambodia and see how much government support you get there? Sometimes you need perspective to understand just how good you have it.”
Personally, I can see the appeal of this notion for all those many Aussies who fail to understand why their hard-earned dollars should help fund decent care and support services for fellow citizens with profound disabilities and their families. Put all us whingers and ingrates on rickety boats and push us off to sea, heading north! Problem solved.
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There’s the Business Council, a deaf guy, a guy with autism, and a quadriplegic at a café filled with people with disabilities. The Government walks into the room with a fresh homemade apple pie cut into twelve pieces, the scent making everyone salivate with desire.
So the Business Council takes eleven slices, leans down to the guy in the wheelchair and says “Watch out, that bloke with autism wants a piece of your pie”.
The deaf guy, of course, doesn’t hear, so he licks the crumbs off the floor, because that’s all that’s left, while the Productivity Commission walks in, full of enthusiasm and ready to get baking the best pie ever.
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The Productivity Commission has released its draft report on a National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Commission has found that the current system is “underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient, and gives people with a disability little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports.”
The draft report recommends a new Scheme, funded directly out of consolidated revenue, or the use of a tax levy as a “second-best option.”
The Commission will continue to examine the proposal in coming months and issue a final report in July. The draft is an important contribution to the national discussion about disability, especially for around 360,000 people with severe lifetime disability. It deserves close attention, predicated on a belief that comprehensive assistance for those people who require lifetime care and support for catastrophic injuries is an important national objective. Having seen my parents-in-law cope with a son disabled from birth, I know first-hand the emotional, financial and family challenges involved.
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Barnaby Joyce dug himself so much deeper into his I wipe my bum with the productivity commission hole today that it’s in danger of collapsing in on top of him.
The ABC’s Samantha Hawley this morning took apart the new opposition regional development and water spokesman limb by limb in an interview on AM.
You can listen to it here. Warning, you might be hiding under your desk by the end.
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Towards the end of the recent 4Corners report on James Packer’s gambling fortunes former PBL director Geoff Cousins gave his assessment of the casino game.
“They’re frankly just a horrible business,” Cousins said. “They live off the misfortunes of others and they are a completely non productive business. They don’t create anything, they just take people’s money and shove it down a hole and now and again if they’re forced to, they give a tiny bit of it back.”
It was an excellent summation that could equally be applied to the casino’s little brother: poker machines.
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Nowhere is the disconnect between the business fraternity and the wider community greater than on the issue of executive salaries.
Forget trying to explain a $10m-plus pay packet with references to “international benchmarks” and “long-term incentives”. The public simply doesn’t accept that anyone, no matter how brilliant, is worth $190,000 a week - or 150 times the average salary.
Given this depth of anger among voters towards the occasionally obscene salaries received by our corporate leaders, the Rudd government has shown remarkable restraint on the issue.
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