Richard Colbeck, the Liberal Senator for Tasmania, has issued a statement about his “excitement” in taking on responsibility for the portfolios of Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport.
“It is an important time in these portfolios, particularly with the Aged Care Royal Commission underway and the need to support senior Australians in their later life,” he said.
“Fundamentally, this portfolio is all about people, which is what makes it so exciting,” he said.
Senator Colbeck told HelloCare, “It is a privilege to serve as the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians. Aged care involves the lives of so many Australians directly and indirectly, and virtually all families will have an experience with aged care during their lifetime.
“As the new Minister I am focused on ensuring that our record funding enables senior Australians to age with dignity and receive the care that they deserve.
“Delivering on the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will be a vital part of this, to ensure that the Australian community can have confidence that their loved ones are receiving a high standard of care and respect.”
Senator Colbeck also said investing in measures to reduce loneliness among senior Australians will be a priority.
Government must ensure better outcomes for older Australians: COTA
The Council of the Ageing congratulated new minister, and urged him to make planning for an ageing population a national priority.
“I urge Minister Colbeck… to not wait for the Royal Commission to be completed to make a number of additional changes we urgently need”, said COTA’s chief executive, Mr Ian Yates.
The new Morrison Government must ensure better outcomes for older Australians in terms of aged care, health, employment, income security and housing, and must also address better coordination across government, Mr Yates said.
“The numbers of older Australians grow every year and will do so for decades, which must be seen as an opportunity to harness the skills, wisdom and experience of older Australians through better employment strategies, a real attack on age discrimination, and health policies that support active ageing,” Mr Yates said.
COTA has written to the prime minister Scott Morrison, outlining its priorities for older Australians, including the urgent need to deliver more effective home care to reduce the 100,000 people waiting list.
Mr Yates said the government’s announcement of a Retirement Incomes Review was “encouraging”.
Mr Yates thanked the outgoing Minister for Aged Care The Hon Ken Wyatt.
“Ken Wyatt has worked tirelessly for the welfare of people using aged care services and put in place many new reforms to ensure older Australians receive higher quality aged care that meets their needs, leaving a great legacy for his successor to continue,” Mr Yates said.
“Urgent action” required in aged care: LASA
Leading Age Services Australia called for “urgent action” from new Minister, issuing a statement saying the Morrison government must make improving aged care “an urgent priority”.
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said, “The Prime Minister says that he wants to build a culture of respect for older Australians and we back that commitment 100 per cent.”
Mr Rooney said the industry is asking the government for more aged care funding, to legislate a maximum three month waiting time for home care, to invest in the aged care workforce, and to develop a national strategy for ageing well.
“This Government must commit to urgent action to address these issues if we are to meet the changing needs and expectations of the growing numbers of older Australians,” Mr Rooney said.
“While the important work of the Royal Commission continues, we must get on with the job of making the system better right now,” he said.
Mr Rooney also acknowledged the contribution of the former Minister for Aged Care.
“Minister Wyatt worked tirelessly to press ahead with the reform agenda in aged care. His contribution to aged care reform has been tangible and credible,” he said
“Not everyone in Australia is getting the aged care they need”: ACSA
In a statement, Aged & Community Services Australia said Senator Colbeck is taking on one of the most “important and potentially rewarding” posts in the new parliament.
“There are significant challenges, but also huge opportunities presented by our ageing nation,” said ACSA CEO, Patricia Sparrow.
Ms Sparrow said “not everyone in Australia is getting the aged care they need” and the nation needs “a better plan” for the ageing population.
“There is reason to feel optimistic about what can be achieved through the big national conversation we are now having about ageing and aged care,” she said.
ACSA is delivering a brief to the new government, and said the royal commission must not delay urgent reforms.
This article was edited on 28 May to include a comment from Senator Colbeck.