Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines says it is clear the Government has failed Australia’s most vulnerable people on the lack of rapid antigen tests, particularly for pensioners, and those living in aged care centres or with disability.
“This week hundreds of pensioners right up and down Indi went along to their pharmacy to pick up the free rapid tests that the Prime Minister promised weeks ago,” Dr Haines said.
“They left empty-handed. The community in North East Victoria has done their job in this pandemic – we got vaccinated, we endured the border lockdowns, we’ve done everything asked of us. But the Prime Minister continues to fail us.”
Earlier this week Dr Haines assisted a local aged care centre in sourcing 100 rapid antigen tests for residents and staff following an outbreak, and pharmacists have reported they have no supply of rapid tests to use as part of the program for free rapid tests for pensioners.
“The most vulnerable in our community are the ones most affected by this failure by the Government,” Dr Haines said.
“Residents in aged care centres are missing out on vital contact with their loved ones, the moments of connection and love, because rapid antigen tests can’t be sourced to ensure a negative result before a visit.
“I am hearing from members of the community who also supplement the care provided to their relatives in aged care facilities. They are worried about elderly people who have been confined to their rooms for days on end.”
Dr Haines met with local pharmacists on Tuesday who said they had been overwhelmed with phone calls and visits from pensioners asking for the tests, but there had been no communication from the Government about how the program would work.
“We are now two years into the pandemic, and six months from when the Government was told it needed to order rapid antigen tests and have a strategy for their use,” Dr Haines said.
“People are calling my office confused about the tests and upset that they are seeing advertisements for free tests they can’t access. The Government has needlessly put them in this position.”