Aged care providers pin reform hopes on new ministers

Aged care providers have welcomed the new aged care ministers and called on them to nominate aged care reform as a priority for the first 100 days of government.

Aged care providers have welcomed the new aged care ministers and called on them to nominate aged care reform as a priority for the first 100 days of government.

Mark Butler

Mark Butler was on Wednesday sworn in as Minister for Health, with Anika Wells named Minister for Aged Care and Sport and Ged Kearney appointed the new Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing.

Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) called on the incoming Ministers to deliver on the promise of political change.

“The aged and community care sector welcomes Mark, Anika and Ged to the portfolio and, with aged care a key focus of Labor’s election campaign, we look forward to working collaboratively on sector reform,” CEO Paul Sadler said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with the new Ministers to ensure older Australians get the care they deserve, workers are better paid and respected, and there is immediate action on much-needed sector reforms, as outlined by the Royal Commission.”

An experienced line-up

The aged care portfolio is a familiar one for Mr Butler. He held the post of Minister for Mental Health and Ageing from September 2010 to July 2013 under prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.

While serving under the Gillard administration Mr Butler ushered in the Living Longer Living Better aged care reforms.

Last year, while Labor was in Opposition, Mr Butler returned to the portfolio as Shadow Minister for Ageing.

“We will be looking to Mark to drive positive reforms across health and aged care,” Mr Sadler said.

In the outer ministry, Anika Wells becomes the Minister for Aged Care and Sport.

Anika Wells

Mr Sadler praised her as being a vocal parliamentary presence on aged care in opposition who strengthened advocacy during the pandemic, and noted Ms Wells’ mother had worked in aged care for 20 years and Ms Wells had also worked in casual aged care roles.

“We look forward to seeing how Anika uses her knowledge and connection to the centre in her role,” he said.

Reform task

Speaking on Radio National on Wednesday morning Ms Wells said: “We will be delivering on our promise that we made to the Australian people at the election. And I really look forward to getting the keys and getting in and talking to department today about what is underway, what is yet to be underway.”

She added “I feel very honoured that I have been given such a big reform task in the Albanese Labor Government and I am looking forward to getting started.”

Ms Wells told RN Breakfast that she had worked in aged care while at university. “So I do have some shop floor experience of aged care, albeit that was in the late 2000s … My mum worked in aged care before she retired so there is a bit of family history in the area.”

Mr Sadler also welcomed the appointment of Clare O’Neil as Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security, and acknowledged the role she had played in advocating for aged care in opposition.

Wage case

Meanwhile, Ged Kearney has been appointed the new Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing. Ms Kearney expressed her excitement on landing the role on Twitter.

While announcing the new ministry, the Prime Minister urged his colleagues not to waste a day in government. His comments add to hopes that there will be greater movement on aged care reforms under an Albanese administration.

Just six days after the election, Mr Albanese tweeted that a Labor Government would be making a submission on the aged care worker wage case before the Fair Work Commission.  

The Albanese Cabinet and ministry will be sworn in at Government House on Wednesday morning and the subcommittees of the new cabinet will meet for the first time Thursday.

*With Australian Ageing Agenda

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