Age discrimination 'alive and well' for older Australians who acquire a disability

26 May 2021

Discrimination of the elderly who acquire a disability is alive and well despite the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said today.

Rebekha’s comments come after Question Time when the Centre Alliance Spokesperson for Aged Care and Disability asked the Government when they would act on recommendation 72 of the Royal Commission which called for every person over the age of 65 – who was also living with a disability – to receive the same support as those accessing the NDIS.

“This is a matter of equity, it was identified as a recommendation in the Royal Commission, and for the Government to effectively say ‘they are looking into it’ is not good enough,” Rebekha said.

“Today in Question Time I raised the plight of Briony who became a quadriplegic two years ago following an accident and is now completely reliant on her partner because her 'Home Care' aged care package barely provides enough funds for her personal hygiene care needs.

“Briony was 66 years old. If she had her accident when she was 64, she would be eligible for the NDIS and would have access to significantly more support than she has right now.

“It’s not fair. It is age discrimination and the Government needs to ensure all people with a disability receive the support they need.”

Under the current system, Australians aged over 65 who have not accessed the NDIS by the age of 64 years, cannot access the scheme even if they acquire their disability through an accident.

Recommendation 72 of the Royal Commission states that: “By 1 July 2024, every person receiving aged care who is living with disability, regardless of when acquired, should receive through the aged care program daily living supports and outcomes (including assistive technologies, aids, and equipment) equivalent to those that would be available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme to a person under the age of 65 years with the same or substantially similar conditions.

In response, the Government said this recommendation would be subject to “further consideration” with a new Support at Home Program being developed that would consider the level of support available to people in aged care, including for people who would otherwise be eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) but for the age eligibility criteria. This work is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

“Further consideration is not action and older people with disability need support now,” Rebekha said.

“I do not accept the Health Minister Greg Hunt’s response in Question Time that the extra funding set aside in the Federal Budget will by default lead to better care for older Australians living with disability in their homes or residential facilities. It certainly won’t be the same level of care that people eligible for the NDIS will receive.

“The NDIS was set up to address the inequitable, underfunded, and fragmented disability care system we had previously in this nation.

“But now it seems we have set up a system that openly discriminates against people who acquire a disability after they reach retirement age.

“The Government needs to accept and act on the Royal Commission recommendation.”

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