Meryl Swanson: Canberra Matters | Concerns over regional health services | The Advertiser – Cessnock


I had the pleasure of cheering on the Weston Bears this past weekend, and in between games, several locals raised with me their concerns about our regional health services and the future of Kurri Kurri Hospital.

Like many, I have a complete lack of faith in the Berejiklian Government when it comes to the future of the hospital. They keep paying us lip service, but frustratingly saying one thing to the staff and another to the community.

I commend Clayton Barr MP on his petition to the state government and urge everyone to sign this if you haven’t already. We need to work together to stop the undermining of our health services. It’s important that we raise as many voices as we can in support of our vital health infrastructure.

This government has a record of undermining regional health services. Under these state and federal governments, we have lost many regional GPs and seen bulk-billing services decline.

Earlier this year, I wrote to many of you about aged care as we know the pandemic and the Royal Commission has put a renewed focus on the failures in this system.

Older Australians built this country, and in return, they deserve dignity in retirement. It’s a shame that this government won’t afford them the respect they’ve earned.

It is a national disgrace that over the last eight years, and after 21 expert reports, we have seen no concrete action to aged care reform. The shocking neglect and substandard conditions in the system have gone on for too long.

We need the Federal Government to stop ignoring the warnings and be more accountable with funding allocations.

Despite the establishment of a Royal Commission, the government fails to give aged care the priority it deserves.

In 2019, the Royal Commission released a shocking interim report named Neglect. The Morrison Government largely ignored this, and since its release hasn’t acted fast enough on warnings about the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

There were 685 COVID-related deaths in aged care in 2020.

The Royal Commission released its final report in February of 2021.

The Prime Minister, in a move nothing short of arrogant, then held a press conference to release the report providing journalists just five minutes warning – about a report eight volumes long.

In May 2021, the government slipped out its official response to the Royal Commission’s final report on the same day as the federal budget. Journalists were given the response document in the lock-up with the budget papers.

This government goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid scrutiny and the most vulnerable in our society inevitably pay the price.

Good government gives a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves. The results of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is only one example of how this government has failed to care for vulnerable Australians.

I remain committed to keeping you all informed with the developments in this space and will continue to pressure the government to match Labor’s commitment to vital aged care reform.

Meryl Swanson is the Federal MP for Paterson

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