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684 落實長者護理改革

Implementing Aged Care Reform

6月7日, 聯邦長者護理部長Anika Wells在國家新聞俱樂部, 就長者護理改革, 在擔任部長一年後, 發表了演說。Anika Wells 在2019年聯邦大選中勝出,在連任後就獲委任為部長, 而且是聯邦內閣中一個重要的部門, 可以說是一顆政壇新星。

Anika就2021年長者護理質素及安全皇家委員會提交的最後報告, 在經過一年考察後, 提出了改革方向。Anika是一位律師,在唸大學時, 她在長者護理設施中工作了兩年, 她的母親也在同一護理設施中工作了6年, 因此Anika 對這行業的改革, 帶著極大的熱情和決心。她提出的改革包括了要在2024年訂立新的長者護理法例, 設立專責小組處理落實皇家委員會各項建議, 並且她放出消息, 會考慮像Medicare一樣, 在入息稅外徵收長者護理費用, 作為提供所需質素服務的資金。

聯邦工黨在上一屆大選中承諾在這一任政府內不會增加新稅收, 不過如何為各項社會改革提供資源都是大家關注的事。不管是NDIS或是長者服務, 當社會覺得要進行改革, 如何能從國家收入中, 長期提供資源就變得重要。Anika的發言, 暗示了新的長者護理法案在實施時, 很有可能也會提出一個令它能維持的財制來源。可以說, 這將是澳洲長者護理服務改革的一個突破口。

皇家委員會的報告, 提出了一個權利為基礎的長者護理概念(Right-based approach), 也特別列出原住民與鄉郊地區長者護理的特別需要, 卻並沒有就多元文化長者護理需要作出討論。但之前的報告, 強調每一位長者都應該能獲得與它語言及文化適切的生活及照顧, 因此聯邦政府絕對有責任協助建設更多適合華人長者生活的長者護理設施。

2014年及2018年維州大選時, 工黨承諾買地協助華人社區設立華人長者護理設施, 到今天仍未落實。2021年的人口調查顯示需要長者護理的華人數目大幅增加, 所以,今天維州政府要盡快兌現這些承諾,不能再延遲。而且聯邦政府也有責任提供更多幫助,令到更多華裔長者的能有更適合自己文化的生活及照顧環境。

周偉文, 社長

Implementing Aged Care Reform

On 7th June Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells announced a policy reform at the National Press Club. She has been in this prominent post since the Labor Party won power in 2019.

Anika made her policy direction in response to the 2021 Royal Commission’s report on the quality aged care and safety. She is a lawyer and had worked in an aged care facility for two years during her university years while her mother had served in the same facility for six years. She shows the passion and drive in making the sector a better one. She proposed a new aged care legislation by 2024 with a taskforce set up to implement recommendations of the royal commission’s report. She also indicated the possibility of a Medicare-like-levy to fund a quality aged care service.

The Labor Party promised no new government tax in the last federal election. Social services reform and supporting resources remain as everyone’s concern. Whether it’s NDIS or aged care, long term funding from our national income is crucial. Anika’s speech pointed to an outlet for Australian aged care reform by having a sustainable funding.

The royal commission’s report brought up the ‘right-based approach’, then raised the special needs of the indigenous group and the rural population, but stop short of touching on the multicultural elderly communities. But in the previous reports it was mentioned that every elderly’s care need should be catered for in their own languages and cultures. So the government has the obligation in providing CALD appropriate aged care facilities for the Chinese elderly population.   

In the 2014 and 2018 Victorian elections, Labor government agreed to provide land for building elderly homes for Chinese; this remains undone. The 2021 Census showed a marked increase in the Chinese elderly population requiring aged care service. The Victorian government must swiftly address to this need. The federal government must also offer more support such that Chinese elderly could be taken care of in an environment of their own lifestyle.

Mr. Raymond Chow, Publisher