The Health Services Union has brought its campaign for better aged care services to Wollongong.
Lynette Martin, an aged care worker for 33 years and the HSU’s Illawarra delegate, was among those to attend a community forum hosted by the union at Wollongong Town Hall Thursday night.
Mrs Martin said she had seen firsthand the effects of repeated cutbacks in the sector.
“The government has really cut back over the years and they keep changing on what you can claim on. They make it harder to get money for staff, residents, food, everything. It just puts a strain on the whole industry,” she said.
“It’s meant [aged care residents] have missed out on extra care.
“They’re missing out on personal time to sit and talk. They’re alone and it’s just not fair.
“Most elderly people don’t vote. A lot have dementia, so the government is neglecting them.”
The union accuses the federal government of making “massive cuts” to aged care programs in recent years.
Speaking to the Mercury from Thursday’s forum – part of the union’s Our Turn to Care campaign – Cunningham MP Sharon Bird said greater funding for home care packages was desperately needed.
“You’ve had people who have been assessed as high needs who are waiting up to a year to get their home care package,” she said.
“The government did a big fanfare before the budget – this big new announcement for the aged care sector. It was 14,000 places across Australia, when there’s over 100,000 on the waiting list. It’s completely insufficient. Then we found out subsequently that the funding for that came out of the residential sector.”