CE’s Corner December 2021

When I think about all the different problems in Aged Care found by the Royal Commission, and all the different solutions that need to be implemented, some should get a higher priority than others. They’re not more important, or necessarily more urgent, instead, they’re the proposals that will have the most impact. One of those is the engagement with and empowering of older people in designing a transformed system, … and on that, I have some excellent news … the Government has announced the membership of the new National Aged Care Advisory Council, and will in the coming weeks announce the membership of the Council of Elders.

It is a real honour to be appointed to the Advisory Council and announced as the Chair of the Council of Elders. I am both humbled by my appointment as Chair of the Council of Elders and excited by the challenges and opportunities the new Council offers. This is not about me or any other individual member of the Council. Instead, this is the moment when Australia’s Government has committed to a future aged care system where older people are valued and listened to. We will have much work to do, but as Chair of the Council of Elders I, along with the other members of the Council, will not only be engaged in making sure older people’s voices are heard by the Ministers, inside the Department of Health, and in the Advisory Council, but also in working to make that the normal way of doing business in every corner of the aged care system.

I would love to promise that these early steps of responding to the Royal Commission are going to have quick results. They will not. In recent weeks another badly run provider went bankrupt, and many more bad operators will need to leave the industry, one way or another, before it is fixed. The transition is going to take time, and whilst we need to ensure all governments stick to the timetable set by the Royal Commission, ensuring we get to the destination is even more important.

COTA Australia’s long campaign to deliver genuine choice and control for older people still has a long way to run, but the establishment of the Council of Elders is a significant step. It will ensure there is more oversight and accountability in the middle of the system. It will help the Federal Government and Department of Health keep the focus on delivering the services older people want and need, in the way that it older people want.

As the membership and eventual workplan of the Council of Elders is announced, I’ll have more to share with you in the coming weeks and months ahead.