PEOPLE living in rural and remote Australia don't have access to a first-class aged care system and that's simply not fair, a royal commission has been told.
Regional communities are in the spotlight as the aged care royal commission holds three days of hearings in Mudgee in the NSW central west.
Senior counsel assisting Peter Gray QC told the commission on Monday there is "no doubt that rural and remote settings pose special challenges for the delivery of aged care".
Many of the challenges are due to structural aspects of remote living, such as wide population distribution, transportation issues, geographic isolation from large centres of economic activity and potentially having populations which are too small to support services, Mr Gray said.
However, equal access to aged care for people living in these regions "is a matter of simple fairness," Mr Gray said.
"Rural and remote Australians make a huge contribution to the nation and deserve a first-class aged care system," he said in Mudgee.
"Regrettably, the evidence suggests they are not getting that first-class system."
Special measures designed to cater for people in the regions and set out under the federal Aged Care Act are "not achieving their intended purpose," Mr Gray added.
The inquiry on Monday will examine a case study from a local residential aged care facility, Pioneer House, which was sanctioned in February for failing to meet expected outcomes under the standards.
Over the three days the commission will also hear from individual witnesses, government representatives, academics and aged care providers.
The royal commission's interim report was released last week ahead of the final report due in November 2020.
Australian Associated Press
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