Politicians need to stop talking and act on aged care neglect in Australia.

Every day, elderly Australians experience unnecessary pain, suffering and premature death in aged care facilities nation-wide.

A complete lack of Federal laws means aged care providers can staff facilities however they choose.

As a result, the majority of Australia’s 2400-plus privately run aged care facilities are chronically understaffed. In fact, it is not uncommon or illegal for one nurse to be left with up to 200 residents at a time.

This means elderly Australians who have lived long, productive lives do not receive the care, food, fluids, medication or assistance they require. It means elderly Australians fall unnecessarily, experience pain unnecessarily and die before their time.

This will likely occur today, tomorrow and every day until Australian politicians – from all sides of politics – act on the issue. With the introduction of Federal legislation that make safe staff levels law in all aged care facilities. Like the laws that exist in child care facilities, schools, learn to swim centres and pretty much every other workplace and facility in the country.

In recent days, in response to ongoing media scrutiny of aged care, politicians like Liberal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt have distributed media releases with titles such as Aged Care Quality and Safety Comes First. Sadly, it does not.

It is increasingly clear that despite numerous aged care reviews, and media releases from the Turnbull Government and the opposition, aged care quality and safety does not come first in this country. Not even close.

The lack of laws and regulation in aged care means older Australians are being treated as second class citizens. They are simply not getting the care they deserve or need.

And while they suffer, the talk and media releases continue. Neither the Turnbull Government or the Federal ALP have committed to introducing laws that would force aged care providers to safely staff their facilities. That needs to change – now. Queensland and Australian nurses and midwives will continue to campaign on this issue http://anmf.org.au/campaign/entry/ratios-for-aged-care.

Right now, these facilities are not required to have even a single Registered Nurse on site. Access to doctors is extremely limited and Personal Carers hired to be on site can legally have little or no experience.

In addition, it is important the Australian public know that these facilities recently received more than $16 billion in taxpayer funds. These providers also reported more than $1 billion in collective profits. And all this atop the around 80 per cent of resident pensions, or up to $800, they receive per bed, per fortnight.

Aged care providers can afford to pay for staff – they just need to be held to account.

The time for talking has long passed. I urge any politicians who genuinely care to act.

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