Independent candidate Rob Priestly is among the Nicholls candidates set to discuss aged care in Seymour.

By Colin MacGillivray

POLITICAL candidates for the federal seat of Nicholls will meet in Seymour on Monday March 28 to discuss aged care policy with local residents.

Karingal Seymour aged care facility board member John Thompson said he arranged the talk because he felt aged care had been neglected at a federal level.

“[Aged care is] a really important part of our various communities and we’ve got to do something about getting it back front and centre with the candidates who are aspiring to lead us,” he said.

“It’s open for anyone in the public who wants to come along. We’ve got the support of the Seymour Senior Citizens Club, the Probus Club of Seymour and U3A Seymour, but anybody can turn up.

“Certainly there are many younger people who aren’t in those groups but may have family in aged care as well.”

Mr Thompson said small regional and rural aged care providers were struggling due to lack of financial support.

“The big corporate church groups have so much money and can do all the training, financing and run their systems efficiently, but when you’ve got small community-run places like Karingal here in Seymour or others in Nagambie, Euroa and Kilmore, it’s pretty bloody difficult,” he said.

“The rural and regional and smaller places, particularly the community-run ones, are really under the pump as far as finances go.

“It’s just a fact of life. You’ll find any aged care providers in rural areas are really just scraping by.”

Among the candidates slated to speak are independent Rob Priestly and Nationals representative Sam Birrell.

Mr Priestly said aged care was often overlooked, describing the situation as ‘not fare on aged care workers or residents’.

“I believe that older Australians should be treated with the dignity they deserve. Yet too often this is not occurring, despite the best efforts of the caring and dedicated people working in the aged care sector,” he said.

“Delays in access to home care packages for older Australians and problems in aged care facilities are major concerns for our communities.

“They are issues most keenly felt in our smaller towns where maintaining connection to family and friends is so important.

“These problems are a direct consequence of the government’s underfunding of the sector and failure to address systemic workforce shortages.”

Mr Birrell said the government was trying to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, delivered in March last year.

“Significant reform has already occurred and the government’s five-year plan to address all 148 recommendations from the Aged Care Royal Commission must be fulfilled,” he said.

“If elected, I will support the five-year plan and ensure our community benefits from the aged care training places that have been created, the scholarships for nurses that are on offer, and the boost to home care packages.

“It’s our parents and grandparents that we are talking about when it comes to aged care, and they deserve the very best services, support and safety.”

Mr Thompson said any solution needed to begin with the recognition that aged care was underfunded.

“The care staff in aged care actually get paid less than the care staff in hospitals, when in fact the care of elderly people, because of their conditions, is usually much more extensive and much more trying than in hospitals,” he said.

“At the minute nobody wants to go into aged care, and we have to change that. It shouldn’t be such a dreadful sentence to be passed. We have to make it a home, not an institution.

“We visited my wife’s sister in the later stages of her life at Karingal at least once a week, so we’ve got a pretty good idea of how families feel.

“I’m trying to make it a place that I wouldn’t mind going into in my later life.”

The meeting will begin at 2pm next Monday at Seymour Senior Citizens Club, 80 Anzac Avenue, Seymour.


  1. The federal government has failed it’s duty of care to provide adequate funding for the safe and sustainable delivery of care to elderly nursing home residents and they should be held to account.

    They have deliberately underfunded residential care funding for almost ten years, introduced new taxes, cut subsidiaries for dementia and frozen CPI in addition.
    This has seen the decline in services available in facilities, sadly though many potential residents are reluctant to enter care mainly due to inaccurate and sensational media reports. Also sadly many potential residents families are way more interested in the view from the window or an ensuite rather than the important issues of care available.

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