Media Releases

Media releases from the Office of Susan Templeman MP.

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DOORSTOP INTERVIEW PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA WEDNESDAY, 26 AUGUST 2020

August 26, 2020

 

 

SUSAN TEMPLEMAN
MEMBER FOR MACQUARIE
  
 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA 
WEDNESDAY, 26 AUGUST 2020


 SUBJECT: Aged care. 
 
SUSAN TEMPLEMAN, MEMBER FOR MACQUARIE: Ninety-seven per cent of aged care facilities are COVID-free. It strikes me 97 per cent is a great mark if you’re doing a maths test, 97 per cent is a great result if you’re doing a driving test. In aged care, 97 per cent represents – right now – 350 people whose lives have been lost ahead of time. Each one of those per cent – each one of those three per cent – is more than 110 people who have died before they should have. It’s 110 families, it’s 110 husbands or wives or parents or partners or grandparents. These are all people who should not have lost their lives, and this government should have had a plan in place. Newmarch House lies just outside my electorate, we should have learnt from what happened at Newmarch House. What is so tragic is not only did the government not learn, but they didn’t even disclose the learnings from the Newmarch inquiry, they didn’t look at what they had already worked out should have been done differently. Now, for the more than a dozen aged care facilities that lie within the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, there is fear. They need to know that the government has a plan. And that’s not just the residents and their families who need to know. The residents and families need to know there’s a plan, the staff who work there busting a gut need to know there’s a plan, and the people who manage the facilities, they need to have the confidence that if COVID strikes their facility, there’s a plan that will kick in and support them to keep their residents and staff safe.
 
JOURNALIST: What were some of the more disturbing findings [inaudible] report [inaudible]
 
TEMPLEMAN: The things that are concerning most about what we saw during Newmarch and what we’ve learned is the lack of access to personal protective gear.  This is just fundamental, and not just access to the gear but knowing how to put it on properly, how to take it off. The third thing that really disturbed me during the Newmarch circumstances was hearing the stories of people who live in my electorate not being able to communicate with their loved one in aged care. People in Newmacrh didn’t have a phone by their bed, they had to rely on a carer taking a piece of equipment to them to make a phone call. This isn’t good enough, every single resident in aged care deserves to have a device that they’re able to use. I have a father in aged care, we have finally found a mobile phone that looks like a desk phone which means that he knows what to do when the phone rings, and he’s not reliant on a care worker who’s already stretched, more stretched than they normally are, being able to take a communal phone into him. These are really practical things the government could do to make the quality of life better for people in aged care right now who are under restrictions, but also to cope with a COVID outbreak. None of us want to see it but we need to know there’s a plan in place. And it’s up to Scott Morrison to really share that plan, and for us to have confidence in it. We all know aged care is a Federal responsibility – it’s no one else’s responsibility, it’s a Federal responsibility – and it’s time this government stopped patting itself on the back and started making things better, and it’s this parliament’s responsibility to keep demanding more.
 
JOURNALIST: You mentioned {inaudible] you said you had your father in aged care, do you have confidence your father will be well taken care of?
 
TEMPLEMAN: I am very fortunate, well two things have happened during COVID. It’s been a really difficult decision for my family to move my father into aged care, so that in itself has been, as anyone who has done that knows, that is one of the most challenging things you can do. I think most families are confident that the people who are caring regularly for their loved one are doing it with a huge amount of love and concern, I certainly know the carers in my father’s facility are fantastic to him. But that doesn’t change the underlying issues. When COVID hits, many of those carers disappear and that’s what the Newmarch report showed. Up to 90 per cent of the regular carers can be taken out of action. Now that means a whole lot of new people coming in, they’re not familiar with the residents, they’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to deal with. So I think most of us want to know that if COVID hits the facility that we have a  loved one in, that there’s a plan in place that our carers in there, the managers of those facilities, will be supported by a government that has the resources to equip them with the PPE they need and to provide the additional staff that they’ll need, that surge workforce that can come in and really pick up where the regular carers would normally be.
 
JOURNALIST: Just one last one, Newmarch happened [inaudible] St Basil’s happened, mistakes were [inaudible] Are you confident lessons now have been learned or will be learned?
 
TEMPLEMAN: I’ll be confident the lessons have been learned when we see them in action. I’ll be confident that the Morrison Government’s learnt the lessons when there’s a Minister who can clearly articulate a plan, and a Prime Minister who stops patting himself on the back for 350 people losing their lives. I think the only thing that will make me confident - but more importantly, the families of every resident in aged care, all the workers in aged care and their directors – the thing that will make us confident is when we see evidence on the ground that there’s support there for them. One of the things that would help would be to hear of the facilities who have successfully dealt with a COVID outbreak, and there are many. And it would be very wise for the government to release those names, the Minister will not release all the names of facilities where a COVID outbreak has occurred. I know in my electorate there was a COVID outbreak in an aged care facility, and it was effectively managed. That’s the sort of thing, that information, that transparency is what will give everybody confidence that we’ve got the right systems in place, and it’s our job in parliament to keep demanding that until we see it.
 

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