Politics with Michelle Grattan: Richard Colbeck on aged care and the Olympics

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In last week’s budget, $17.7 billion was allocated to the aged care sector, in response to the damning findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety.

The commission’s final report painted a grim picture of a sector in need of sweeping overhaul - with people in residential care requiring a more supportive – and in some cases safer - environment, and people at home desperately short of enough care packages.

The government’s response includes an additional 80,000 homecare packages, funding for better staffing (including a mandate of 200 minutes of care for each resident, each day), and a commitment to a new aged care act.

Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, as well as Minister for Sport, joins the podcast to discuss aged care policy, and the coming Olympics.

One big question in aged care, which hasn’t been tackled, is whether wealthier people should contribute more to funding their costs. Colbeck says “we’ve had a really close look at that” and “there’s probably more work to do in that space”.

“But I think there’s broad acceptance that where people can afford to make a contribution to support them as they age, they should do so. We’ll continue to consider that.”

The Tokyo Summer Olympics, originally slated for 2020 but now due to commence in July, have attracted considerable criticism given the state of coronavirus in Japan. Only recently the nation’s lockdown was extended, with new cases in the thousands being reported daily, and there are strong calls for the games to be abandoned.

Colbeck concedes “there will be COVID” at the Olympics. But the International Olympic Committee has “made arrangements” for any athlete or official who contracts the virus. He also described the work of the medical team at the Australian Institute of Sport as “world-leading”.

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Additional audio

A List of Ways to Die, Lee Rosevere, from Free Music Archive.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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