THE Government’s message is that all’s well with aged care and that’s why we need a Royal Commission into it.
Calling an inquiry is a standard Government response to any crisis. The sheer number of inquiries into aged care gives an indication of how many crises there have been. It got to the point where the Government would have looked silly if it had called another inquiry into aged care, so it called the only inquiry that would still be taken seriously, a Royal Commission.
From any Government’s point of view, the purpose of an inquiry is primarily a play for time. The secondary purpose may be that it wants things fixed, but primarily calling an inquiry gives it breathing space. It is seen to be doing something, when in reality the crisis continues to fester. This applies to all inquiries, including Royal Commissions.
The Aged Care Royal Commission will not report until well after the next federal election.
The aged care industry’s response to the Royal Commission announcement has been three-fold: welcoming, defensive and dismissive.
First, the industry welcomes the Royal Commission as an opportunity to make the case for more funding.
Second, the aged care industry is petrified the same will happen to it as what happened to the banks and financial planners, so it’s setting up war rooms to prepare its quaking executives for Commission hearings. War rooms is the actual term the industry uses, an unhappy choice of language given Royal Commissioners and their staff read newspapers too.
Third, the industry is keen to continue with reforms already in train, essentially dismissing the idea that aged care is in crisis.
It fails to appreciate that the aged care reforms now being introduced, including the new Aged Care Quality Commission, the Single Aged Care Quality Framework and the Workforce Strategy, are solutions cobbled together between the Government and the aged care industry in a way designed to preserve as much as possible the status quo, protecting the interest of the Government worried about its aged care expenditure and the interests of the industry concerned with making sure the current levels of subsidies continue to adequately feed its profits.
The new Commission, the new Quality Framework and the new Workforce Strategy are crony non-solutions and will be trotted out during Royal Commission hearings as proof that Government and industry have everything in hand. Nothing to see here, Commissioners!
CPSA hopes the Commissioners will prove smarter than to fall for that.