The Morrison Government has dumped the tender that would start the privatisation of aged care assessment in Australia after significant pressure from the states and in Parliament.
Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon, who tabled a motion against the privatisation plan in Parliament last week, said she had met with local ACAT representatives in Newcastle who warned of the risks.
“Aged-care assessment teams (ACAT) staff are the first interaction that older Australians have with the aged-care system and a critical first step in getting a home care package or moving into residential aged care,” Ms Claydon said.
“These are important roles which are filled by qualified people who know what they're doing. No private provider would be capable of offering the breadth of skills to assess the complex needs of hundreds of thousands of older Australians.”
Ms Claydon said privatisation would have only added to the problems in aged care.
“This backdown is a win for older Australians, their loved ones and aged care workers,” Ms Claydon said.
“If this service was sold off to the highest bidder, there would be a very real risk that the more expensive parts of the service would be shut down or indeed pushed back onto government.”
Ms Claydon said she had also been ‘gravely concerned’ about potential conflicts of interest.
“When the profit motive conflicts with service standards or the need to save public money, as they inevitably would, how could we be sure that older Australians' interests and responsible use of public money would prevail?
“I was particularly worried that the companies that run the nursing homes could have secured the contracts to conduct these assessments. That’s like handing out licences to print publicly funded money.”