The Australian Greens said today that they are surprised that Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are not engaging more on the question of aged care, given 40% of Australian voters being over the age of 50.
"I share the frustration voiced by many people across the aged care sector about the vague and ill-informed responses we got from Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott on the issue of caring for older Australians in Sunday's debate," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on ageing said today.
"The Greens understand that providing people with the best quality of life as they age includes working across a range of issues, such as reducing the cost of living, making sure income support payments are adequate, helping people remain in the workforce if they wish, providing a range of choices for high quality aged care, be it in-home or residential and ensuring appropriate assistance is given to older Australians with a disability.
"It is disappointing that neither Mr Rudd nor Mr Abbott seemed able to grasp these concepts.
"Efforts to improve aged care do not simply end now that the Living Longer, Living Better reforms have passed through Parliament. The ultimate success of the reform process will rely on our Government taking additional steps in coming years, and working towards implementing more of the Productivity Commission's recommendations.
"The reforms do fall short in some key areas. The Greens are committed to delivering further improvements for older Australians and this commitment needs to be shared by the other parties, however the signs from Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott suggests aged care just isn't on their radar at this time.
"Beyond the reform process, there are countless other issues that affect older Australians, but I don't think that message has got through to Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott.
"The Greens have a suite of strong initiatives to address the cost of living, improving our income support system, help older jobseekers back into work, make dental care more accessible and create more affordable housing, each of which will help older Australians and their families across metropolitan, region and rural communities.
"The issue of dementia care is another which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. We know that dementia can significantly affect a person's quality of life and can be very challenging for the person living with it, their families and friends. This is a growing issues, with 400,000 people expected to have dementia by 2020. There must be a commitment from all parties to improve access to support services, provide better quality care, early diagnoses and improved research and development.
"The Greens believe that all Australians deserve access to quality care, irrespective of their personal circumstances.
"We have worked hard on aged care reforms and will continue to work hard with older Australians, aged care providers and staff to ensure these reforms are as effective as possible, while at the same time providing strong and responsible policies to address the challenges people face as they age," Senator Siewert concluded.