THE absence of any mention of aged care in the most recent pre-election Leader's Debate has been strongly condemned by one of the country's leading older people's lobby groups.
Describing aged care as the biggest single issue facing older Australians and their families today, Council of the Ageing Australia said the omission was "profoundly offensive to the more than 125,000 older Australians, and the more than 1,000,000 members of their families, waiting for a home care package, many of whom die while waiting".
COTA Australia's chief executive Ian Yates said both parties were running out of time to release a plan to cut the time older Australians approved for high level care wait to get it - currently up to two years!
COTA Australia has called on all parties to ensure no-one has to wait more than three months for a home care package that meets the needs government has already approved them as requiring.
Where are our values as a nation?
"How can both leaders ignore the fact that over a hundred thousand of our most frail older people are not getting the care the government has assessed they need? If this is not a priority for the next government where are our values as a nation - are older people's lives discounted?" asked Mr Yates.
He described the failure during the debate to announce a commitment to a humane aged care packages policy as "an appalling failure by both parties".
"The Aged Care Royal Commission has already acknowledged, early in its work, the scale of the waiting lists, the strain on families and the devastating impact on people waiting - whether being forced into inappropriate residential aged care or dying before they receive the aged care they need - and has said it must be fixed now.
"Over a hundred thousand families are suffering from the stress and frustration of a system that is badly letting down their loved ones and nearly a million family members.
Over a hundred thousand families are suffering from the stress and frustration of a system that is badly letting down their loved ones and nearly a million family members.
"This is not something that can be deferred for the next term of government all those in need will be dead, and hundreds of thousands more will have replaced them on the queue!" said Mr Yates
"The single most important immediate action we need to deliver humane aged care in Australia is a commitment that no Australian waits more than three months for the right level of home care."
Mr Yates said the Health Department had told the royal commission it would only cost between $2 billion and $2.5 billion to solve the issue.
"Older Australians cannot wait another three years to learn each party's plans to address this crisis. It doesn't need to wait for the completion of the Royal Commission, it can be done straight away, as a matter of urgency and humanity," he said.
- Read more: Waiting list blowout: elderly dying during long wait for home care, advocates warn
- Read more: Government struggling to rein in home care waiting list