11 September 2019

Candidates respond to aged care concerns at Cooma election forum

| Ian Campbell
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Ian Campbell - About Regional (meeting moderator) along with candidates, Liberal - Fiona Kotvojs, Labor - Mike Kelly, The Greens - Pat McGinlay, The Nationals - Sophie Wade, independent - James Holgate, independent - David Sheldon. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

Ian Campbell – About Regional (meeting moderator) along with candidates, Liberal – Fiona Kotvojs, Labor – Mike Kelly, The Greens – Pat McGinlay, The Nationals – Sophie Wade, independent – James Holgate, independent – David Sheldon. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

An emotional aged care advocate in Cooma has appealed to the candidates contesting Eden Monaro to act now on better support for the sector and the fragile people they nurse and care for.

Vicki Shoo is the Chair of the not for profit, community owned Sir William Hudson Memorial Centre in Cooma. Ms Shoo called on the seven candidates who attended last night’s About Regional – Cooma Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidates Forum to commit to change.

Sitting in the front row, Ms Schoo stood and with a tremble of passion and frustration in her voice said, “We are one of the 65% of nursing homes across Australia who do not make any money.”

“We have 72 precious souls that we are catering for and I am interested to know, when, if and how much you are prepared to give us before the [Aged Care] Royal Commission is brought down?

“I want sustainable money so we can look after the people we are caring for, we need money now to care for our residents.

“Are any of you prepared to put your hand up before this Royal Commission comes down and start to support my residents?”

Ms Schoo went on to explain that governemnt funding simply isn’t keeping up.

“Every year we are eating into our capital funding to provide care, money we put aside for important works and improvements,” she said.

“We’ve had a reduction in funding in recent years, the payments we receive simply aren’t keeping up with the real costs of providing care.

“We already know what needs to be done.”

Greens candidate, Pat McGinlay, was the first to respond to Ms Schoo’s impassioned plea.

“We don’t have the capacity to promise money, but we can work on principles until such time as we have influence and make sure those things get into the budget,” Mr McGinlay said.

“[The Greens support] Improved aged care through increased levels of care and improved staffing ratios.

“That staffing ratio is where the money has to be spent.

“I’ve worked in aged care, I know the reality you are talking about, its an industry that needs transformation and the first thing is more money for more staff so that our old people get the care they need.”

Next to answer was Liberal candidate, Fiona Kotvojs.

“I support additional funding into aged care,” she said.

“I am on the Anglican Property Trust for this diocese, we owned a number of small aged care facilities.

“About two years ago we made a decision that we had to sell them, we couldn’t cover our costs.

“Those smaller facilities are where the heart is

“The administration requirements had become incredibly complex.

“I know the problems but I haven’t got the solutions, what I can say is that I will fight incredibly hard to get more money into the system, you have my word.”

Vicki Shoo. Photo: Vicki Schoo

Vicki Shoo. Photo: Vicki Schoo

Sitting member, Labor’s Mike Kelly thanked Ms Schoo for her service to the community.

“We’ve been traveling around and hearing some tragic stories,” he said.

“And now we are hearing about the 130,000 people who are waiting for in-home care packages, they are dying before they are getting those packages.

“The first thing we’ll be doing is targeting those in-home care packages and taking the pressure off aged care facilities.

“Labor hasn’t finished announcing it policies yet for the election, there is more detail for aged care that is coming.

“We are putting money aside from our taxation reforms.”

The Nationals Sophie Wade was moved by the emotion Ms Schoo displayed in asking her question.

“I will be knocking on your door to work out what we can do as quickly as possible to help you.”

The final response came from independent candidate David Sheldon.

“The Regional Australia Institute put out a report on aging,” Mr Sheldon explained.

“It mentions the Far South Coast as one of the fastest aging regions in Australia.”

Ms Schoo says she doesn’t feel like she got the answer she was hoping for from the candidates and is resigned to the fact that her industry will have to wait for the recommendations of the Royal Commission for government to make significant reforms.

“What we need right now is more local people to get involved with Sir William Hudson,” she told Region Media.

“It’s in this communities interests to have a place to where our older people are cared for, it gives us all confidence, we are creating a home for these special people and we need people of all backgrounds and ages to help us.

“When we started all those years ago we had 750 members, now we are down to 30.”

Ms Schoo says Sir William Hudson has taken part in early stages of the Royal Commission and is considering making a formal submission.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care is still taking submission and will hold its next round of hearings in Sydney from May 6.

About Regional is partnering with local Chambers of Commerce to hold a series of election forums in the run-up to the May 18 election.

Perhaps this will ignite the campaign and generate the interest and discussion many crave?

Come meet the candidates, ask questions, raise issues, listen and hopefully leave better informed and with a sense of where your number 1 might land.

Jindabyne Meet the Candidates, presented by Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce and About Regional

Friday, May 3, 6:00 pm (for a 6:30 pm start) to 8:00 pm, Rydges Horizons, all welcome, free to attend mingle with candidates from 8:00 pm.

Bega Meet the Candidates, presented by Bega Chamber of Commerce and About Regional

Tuesday. May 7, 5:30 pm (for a 5:45 pm start) to 7:15 pm, Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre, nibbles on arrival, all welcome, free to attend, mingle with candidates from 7:15 pm.

As a local news and stories service covering Southern NSW, About Regional would love to extend these forums to electorates like Gilmore and Hume and other communities within Eden Monaro, however, as a startup media company our resources are limited and still building. If your community organisation would like to work with us on these type of events in the future please make contact – [email protected]

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