Members from ANMF branches in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia have been seeking pledges of support for aged care ratios from political candidates contesting five by-elections due to be held later this month on 28 July.
By-elections will take place in the Queensland electorate of Longman, Mayo in South Australia, Braddon in Tasmania, and Perth and Fremantle in Western Australia.
The unprecedented number of polls set for the same day, dubbed the Super Saturday by-elections, has presented a timely opportunity to judge the level of support for the ANMF’s national campaign pushing for an end to chronic understaffing in the aged care sector by legislating aged care ratios.
“These by-elections represent a genuine litmus test regarding the level of political will in addressing chronic understaffing in our aged care sector,” ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.
“We are calling on candidates to support mandated staff ratios in the aged care sector to ensure vulnerable elderly Australians living in nursing homes have access to safe quality care.”
The Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU, ANMF Qld Branch) has already made inroads, securing the pledge of support for aged care ratios from Longman candidate, Labor MP Susan Lamb.
Ms Lamb met with QNMU Secretary Beth Mohle and ANMF aged care ratios campaign face Cherise last month to seal her support for minimum staff ratios in the sector.
In South Australia, the ANMF (SA Branch) held meetings with candidates for the seat of Mayo last month, seeking support for aged care ratios from both the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie and Liberal Candidate Georgina Downer.
Officially launched 12 May, International Nurses Day, the ANMF’s national aged care ratios campaign is calling on federal politicians to stand up and support the legislation of ratios and ensure aged care providers are held accountable for the billions in government subsidies they receive.
A recent report prepared by the Tax Justice Network Australia on behalf of the ANMF showed the country’s top six for-profit aged care providers received over $2.17 billion in government subsidies – 72% of their total revenue – and made profits of $210 million during 2016 and 2018 by using a range of loopholes to minimise the amount of tax they pay.
The report triggered a Senate Inquiry into the financial and tax practices of for-profit aged care providers that will investigate the use of tax avoidance or aggressive tax minimisation strategies and the associated impacts on the quality of care in the sector.
The ANMF’s submission makes several key recommendations, including requiring any company receiving government funding over $10 million to file complete audited annual financial statements with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and residential aged care companies publicly and transparently disclosing the staff of all aged care facilities