Dr HAINES (Indi) (10:52): I rise to speak in support of the Inspector-General of Aged Care Bill 2023. Today I’m thinking about Edie Dryden. Edie is the north-east’s leading centenarian. In fact, she’s one of the oldest people in Australia. She celebrated her 107th birthday last year. She has six children, 19 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and 47 great-great-grandchildren. Edie lives in residential aged care in Yackandandah. She lived independently until she was 101, and then she moved into a facility in the same town that she had first come to in December 1960. She has now lived there for over 60 years. We owe it to people like Edie not just to talk about fixing the system but to actually make it happen.
As the royal commission reported, our aged-care system is broken. As a result, too many older Australians are denied high-quality and safe care. Countless reports have told us so. Successive governments saw these problems and papered over the cracks. The system is opaque. We need to do better, and this bill is a step there. This bill establishes the long-awaited Inspector-General of Aged Care, implementing recommendation 12 of the royal commission report. The commission recommended an inspector-general to provide strong oversight to a system that for some time has fallen short of providing care and support to allow people to age with dignity. The inspector-general will have powers to identify, monitor, investigate and report on systemic issues in our aged-care system—the common, deeply rooted, complex issues. The inspector-general can also investigate the complaints system, which is a big concern for many of my constituents who have experienced distressing and unsatisfactory frustrating processes. Importantly, this bill brings a new level of transparency and accountability to the aged-care system. It will report to the parliament and the government on these issues, and recommend solutions to bring about real systemic change.
Ensuring our aged-care system is transparent and accountable is one step towards instilling the trust of families, older people and workers back in a system that has failed them for so long. Critically, the inspector-general must report on the implementation of the royal commission recommendations. I cannot say strongly enough how important this is. For so long, Australians have listened to royal commissions and not seen action. The royal commission into aged care was so powerful, so compelling and so distressing to Australians that it is incumbent upon every one of us in this place to stand tall and strong, and to insist that those recommendations are implemented.
When the royal commission handed down its report two years ago, I called, right then, for the implementation of all recommendations. Like other members, I stood up again and again in this place and called on the previous government to act urgently. I was frustrated by the pace of reform. I hope that now, under the watchful eye of the inspector-general, we will realise the ambition to implement all recommendations.