DAVID BEVAN: Anne Ruston is back with us. Good morning, Anne Ruston.
SENATOR ANNE RUSTON: Hi, hopefully you've got me here.
BEVAN: That's a much better line. Anne Ruston, we know we want to look after our oldies. We're all going to be there one day. But how are we going to pay for it?
RUSTON: Well, I mean, that obviously is the decision and the question that is before everybody at the moment. And, as an Opposition, we've given bipartisan support to the Government and we will look at solutions that come forward in good faith because we know that it is in the best interests of older Australians - and all of us as you rightly point out, David, are heading there sometime in the future - to make sure that we have a sustainable aged care sector going forward into the future. But it is a challenging time as we've got an older population. But one of the things I would say and I'd call on the Government is make sure in this Taskforce, when you're listening to the sector and you're listening to the people who are providing the services and you're talking to the researchers, don't forget to talk to older Australians as well. Ask them what they want in their journey of ageing, because I think too often we forget to speak to the people that really are the ones that we should be speaking to.
BEVAN: But we know what they want?
RUSTON: Do we?
BEVAN: Well, they want to stay in their home as long as possible. They don't want to be isolated. If they do have to go into 24 hour, seven day a week care, they want it to be clean, they want it to be interesting, they want it to be stimulating. I mean, you don't have to be a genius to know what people want from aged care.
RUSTON: Well, I think that you've made the point in relation to the broader issues that, of course, you know, anybody can see they would be the kinds of things older Australians want. But you go and ask somebody in a rural and regional community, would they rather have 24/7 nurses seven days a week and have to move 100 miles away from their community? Or would they prefer to actually look at an alternative model of care which enables them to stay in their own communities? So I think we need to be very careful that we don't take a one-size-fits-all approach to this. We need to actually look at unique models of care that suit the particular circumstances of a community.
BEVAN: That's interesting. And I think you're bringing your perspective as somebody who spends a lot of time in regional South Australia. Are there people in country SA who are worried about this requirement to have a registered nurse 24/7?
RUSTON: There are many, many nursing homes that are worried about the care minute requirements that have been mandated on them. Not because they don't want to meet them, they'd love to be able to meet them, but they just are not able to get the workforce to do it. And so, if the decision is you either meet your care minutes or you close down, and you have to have people move out of the homes, if you asked older Australians, I can tell you they would rather stay in their communities and have a different model. So, that is very concerning for us at the moment. But of course, as I said, we're happy to work with the Government. I'm interested to see what the Taskforce comes out with in terms of solutions to the sustainability of our aged care sector. But I think we do need to make sure that we don't take a one-size-fits-all approach to this. We need to be nuanced and we need to take into account the individual circumstances, particularly in smaller communities.
BEVAN: Anne Ruston, that's a good springboard to take calls. Anne Ruston is saying whatever you do, we might broadly agree on this, but whatever we do, we need to get a more nuanced approach from people who are actually using the system.