BILL SHORTEN MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICES
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
SENATOR KIMBERLY KITCHING
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICES
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR THE NDIS
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA
EMMA MCBRIDE MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CARERS
MEMBER FOR DOBELL
ALICIA PAYNE MP
MEMBER FOR CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 2 FEBRUARY 2021
SUBJECT: Government inaction on housing for young people with disabilities; Labor’s Disabilities and Carers team; Election.
BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: (Inaudible – introducing Alicia Payne) who helps lead Labor on the Joint Committee on the NDIS. There is a major change/charge in 2021, to get young people out of nursing homes. The Aged Care Royal Commission has said this is one of the most important priorities, to make sure that people with profound and severe disabilities live in appropriate accommodation that they choose, rather than being forced to live in dementia wards like Angie was. Angie’s story and the story of her brave sister-in-law Tania, who do this not because they're saints, but just because they fight for their own family, to get out of a dementia ward and to live in a house you can call her own, is a remarkable struggle. We have an NDIS that has now finally delivered for this great family. But there are thousands of people under the age of 65 living in inappropriate accommodation, in aged care and in hospital wards when they should have a house of their own. Australia is smart and generous enough to be able to afford to give people and families choices. But at the moment, the Morrison Government is moving too slowly to get young people out of inappropriate aged care and to support them and carers to be able to have ordinary lives with meaning and dignity. Now, I'm very pleased to be introducing Kimberley Kitching to our team for Disability. Kimberley was a vigilant guardian on government accountability, and now we will have her services along with that of (Member for Canberra) Alicia Payne and (Shadow Assistant Ministers for Carers) Emma McBride, making sure that hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, with profound and severe disabilities, do not get forgotten. Making sure that their families and their carers are not treated as second class Australians. Labor is on the side of people with disabilities. Labor is on the side of carers. And in 2021, as the new parliamentary year starts, we will keep the Morrison Government honest on the promises it’s made, to make sure that there are no more young people in aged care. I'd like to get Kimberley to just say a couple of words, and then we're happy if there's any questions.
SENATOR KIMBERLY KITCHING: Thanks, Bill, and it’s great to join the team. As we know, Bill has been a fighter for those who cannot sometimes fight for themselves. And what we've seen today is Tania, the sister-in-law of Angie, who has just had to fight by herself, for her sister-in-law for many, many years, for nine, ten years, including getting her sister-in-law out of a locked dementia ward. It's just not appropriate that someone like Angie is put in a place like that, when it's not necessary. Here she can have her own home. She's painted it pink, her favourite colour. And you can see the pink kettle and the pink outdoor furniture as well. And to give someone dignity in life, that is what we are about. We are about ensuring that all Australians are treated with dignity and can live with dignity. Thank you.
SHORTEN: I might just ask Emma McBride to say a few words, from the carers’ perspective.
EMMA MCBRIDE, MEMBER FOR DOBELL: Thank you, Bill. Thank you, Kimberley and congratulations on your appointment, and Alicia, you have been such a strong spokesperson for people with disability. I can see Alicia is very affected by this today. And it's because she cares. And to see someone like Angie, a young person with a disability in a locked dementia unit, it's not appropriate. It's not safe. It doesn't give her the quality of life that she and other people like her deserve. We've heard today that there's 45 other people in Angie's situation in residential aged care, just in Canberra alone. That's not appropriate and it's not safe in a country like Australia. And just talking to her sister-in-law, who said to me it was a full-time job, she had to work seven days a week to try to get the care and the support that Angie needed and deserved. And there’s still consequences of that today for their family. The financial impact - Angie lost her job. Tanya lost her job in trying to support Angie. This is the impact that it has on families, the social and economic impacts of disability. And the inactions of this Government are profound and must be changed.
SHORTEN: Thank you. Any questions?
JOURNALIST: Well, I’m kind of interested in the post-COVID economic circumstances. There’s going to be a lot of infrastructure spending and there seems to be a focus on roads and huge buildings and things, how do we get the government to make this a priority in infrastructure? It's a great infrastructure project that should be followed.
SHORTEN: The Morrison Government need to go to the dictionary and look at the meaning of infrastructure. Infrastructure is not just roads and bridges and pipes, though they are important. Infrastructure is houses where people live. No Australian person should be forced to live in an aged care facility merely because the system is too bureaucratic or too negligent or too disinterested to stop them having a home of their own. There are thousands of young people this morning, waking up all over Australia who are living in dementia wards, living in hospital beds, living in aged care facilities, who deserve better. The Morrison Government made a promise in 2019 that it would get young people out of nursing homes by 2022. The clock has already gone more than halfway since the Morrison Government made the big promise. Not enough is happening. As we come out of COVID, all Australians know that we can do better, and we've got to make sure that we don't leave anyone behind. And that includes the carers who are looking after the people with disabilities.
JOURNALIST: Another question, inevitable, I guess. How’s Albo travelling, does he have your full support still?
SHORTEN: Well, Labor can win the next election, and Anthony’s our leader. What we want to do is make sure that we focus on the needs of people. COVID-19 has been an extraordinarily difficult experience for small businesses, for carers, for people who have lost their jobs. We need to keep the Morrison Government honest. We're going to do that in disabilities. Mr Morrison is beatable at the next election. I think that the Morrison Government has drunk too much of their own Kool-Aid. The fact that they are attacking the conditions of workers, including carers, to me is the 180 degrees wrong direction. It’s the carers who got people with disabilities through the COVID-19 crisis. This is not a time for the Morrison Government to be cutting their superannuation, to be cutting their penalty rates, to be cutting their basic conditions.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that Mr Albanese will still be leader at the next election?
SHORTEN: Yeah, I think Anthony can win the next election. Let me be very clear about that. Labor does best when we focus on everyone. When we make sure that we get that message that we're on the side of everyday people. We've learnt a lot from the last election. And what we're going to do is make sure that whenever we talk about the issues, it's about helping people find work. It's about making sure people have good conditions at work. And when people fall off the rails, when they're doing it hard, that there’s a big, generous safety net, like the NDIS, which is looking after Angie. The system should also look after Tania. And I just want to thank all the carers who are working here today. What a remarkable job they do.
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