Aged Care Royal Commission; polls
DAVID KOCH: Appalling cases of abuse against people in aged care have triggered a Royal Commission into the industry. The last financial year saw the number of services with serious risk almost double and non-compliance increase by 292 per cent. The terms of reference and costs will be worked out over the next few weeks. The Prime Minister joins us now. Scott Morrison, thanks for joining us.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks David.
KOCH: Prime Minister, a couple of weeks ago your Minister said there was no need for a Royal Commission. You brought this on. Is this a personal thing to you, have you had an experience in this area in the past that has made you so passionate about it?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I think it’s personal to everyone David, because Australians all have to make some difficult decisions about their loved ones at their time of greatest vulnerability and frailty. What Ken had been saying is that he wants to see the money go into frontline services and we’re going to make sure that happens as well. But I want to make sure that all Australians who are making these decisions and those who those decisions are being made for, can have total confidence with the care that their loved ones will receive. That’s why we need to get on with this and we need to get on with it now. As the new Prime Minister, it was one of the key things that I thought we needed to move ahead with.
KOCH: How did it get this bad? I was frankly shocked at the statistics. You close one aged care facility a month?
PRIME MINISTER: That’s right.
KOCH: A 292 per cent increase in centres which don’t comply with the rules, this is frightening that it has got to this stage?
PRIME MINISTER: Well that’s what happens when you start policing these things. A couple of years ago, what we started to do was do these visits, do the compliance orders, put the cop on the beat and strengthen those resources. When you take a good look inside, this is what you see. So it may well be that there may have been under-reporting in the past, but what it does show is a level of risk and a level of sub-standard service in elements of the industry that needs to be addressed. So that’s what happens when you put a cop on the beat. That’s what the cop is there to do and then you have to take action when you get that information.
KOCH: This is the greatest fear of a lot of Australians who have an elderly parent in an aged care facility. It sort of haunts you in the back of your mind. What has got to be done in the meantime though, because I agree with the Royal Commission. But that could take forever to come up with recommendations. How are you going to fix the problem between now and the recommendations being implemented, which could be a couple of years?
PRMIE MINISTER: Well I expect that it should be done by the second half of next year. But you're right, we’re not going to sit still and wait for that report to come back.
Just last week I announced $106 million for improving the capacity of particularly for regional residential aged care centres, additional resources for the policing standards. $40 million for the lifting of standards. In the Budget I put $86 million in for increased mental health services into residential aged care facilities. We’ve increased the in-home care places since December of last year, by 20,000. That will increase high-care in-home care places, by over 80 per cent over the next four years. So we’re investing an additional $1 billion in aged care every year, from my first Budget in 2016/17. So we’re putting the resources in. But this is an area of expanding need.
KOCH: Oh yeah.
PRIME MINISTER: Because as you know with the changing demographics, you’ve more Australians going into care ultimately and people are leaving it until longer in life - because the good news is that they’re able to make choices to stay home for longer - it means that when they go into residential aged care, their needs are more acute. That’s changing what is needed from these centres, particularly when it comes to things like dementia and for our multicultural communities. When you suffer from dementia, often you refer to your original language. That means you need a different skills in a lot of these centres to cope with that.
KOCH: All the best, I think you have a lot of Australians supporting you with that.
Now while we’ve got you, a Fairfax-Ipsos poll out this morning has you well ahead of Bill Shorten as preferred PM. But the Coalition is still well behind two-party preferred. How are you going to change that around? Obviously, the public like you. They liked Malcolm as well. But that two-party preferred you can’t seem to get up, what is needed?
PRIME MINISTER: It’s one step at a time and there is no doubt we have been marked down from the events of several weeks ago and that’s totally understandable. So I’m in the business, my team is in the business of demonstrating to them that we’re back on the job, we’re focused 100 per cent on the needs of the Australian people. I’m looking through the dust of all the things that get kicked up here in Canberra. This place can get very distracted by itself. I am not distracted by it.
PRIME MINISTER: It’s just week after week, as Flanno at the Sharks always says; “Put a month of good footy together and you never know, you’ll find yourselves in the finals.”
And that’s where we are, in the Sharks anyway.
KOCH: Oh alright, boasting about your football team. Fair enough too, good luck with the finals. Alright mate, take care.