ABC South East - : Currawarna Aged Care in Bombala

ABC South East - : Currawarna Aged Care in Bombala Main Image

17 February 2022



SUBJECT: Currawarna Aged Care in Bombala. 
SIMON LAUDER, HOST: Well, let's hear now from the Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain who joins us live. Hello?
LAUDER: Did you get any heads up that this was happening before that meeting yesterday?
MCBAIN: I was contacted by Southern Cross at the end of last week to let me know that there'll be a community meeting and this was potentially on the cards. It’s completely devastating for a whole range of Bombala, and the region’s, families whose loved ones are in that facility.
LAUDER: Do you share the hope that it can be saved? Or do you think it is a done decision?
MCBAIN: The one thing I know about regional and rural communities is that they're not going to give up without a fight. This is, again, a failure to understand how regional rural communities work. That centre was fundraised by local people, the land was gifted by a local family, local people go there. To send a loved one away to Bega or Cooma or Pambula or beyond, isn't really about keeping people within their community. There's no aging in place happening there. There's been a whole lot said about the aged care sector over the last couple of years. And the fact that we're now in this position, just goes to show we've learnt nothing.
LAUDER: Well, we do know the Chief Executive Officer Helen Emerson’s blaming the Royal Commission and media coverage of it for I guess, making it a less attractive career option for nursing staff. Is there something more that can be done to attract more staff to Bombala?
MCBAIN: I think it's fairly plain and simple. Over the last couple of years, yes, there has been a Royal Commission, yes, there has been a lot of attention on aged care centres. But at the end of the day, it's about people and we care for people. My mum worked in the age care system for 15 years. And she nursed people, she did recreational activities with people. She saw people during their best days and, then in their worst, and she did it because she wanted to care for them. It is simple that we actually need to value our care economy. And we haven't valued it. It's a viable career option for so many people, but where is the assistance in trying to get TAFE qualifications? Where's the assistance in trying to help nurses get University qualifications? There actually has to be a proper response. And what we're seeing at the moment is not a proper response. It's time we really pressure our governments to realise that these are people. This isn't a numbers game. This isn't a nice to have in communities. This is something that we need and it's always regional and rural communities that miss out first. 
LAUDER: We've seen as well recently the closure of Roy Wotton Gardens in Eden because according to the operators RSL Life Care it has become not fit for purpose because of changing care needs. There's claims of an age care crisis nationally because of COVID. But are we seeing a different kind of crisis in the regions and in Eden-Monaro, with aged care centres closing and local options disappearing for locals?
MCBAIN: Yeah, that's right. We can talk about it being a crisis because of COVID, but you talk to any of the staff, there staffing problems before this pandemic. As I said, it seems to be always regional and rural communities that miss out first. I mean, we're struggling to attract permanent GPs to the area. We've got forestry contractors whose contracts haven't been renewed with Forestry Corp. Why is it always our communities that have to miss out first? There was a whole hullabaloo about the ADF going into some of our nursing homes to assist. 1700 members of the Defence Force to make sure that our centres could continue to operate. And yesterday, we found out there's only 133 people that have been deployed. There has to be weight and effort. But there just doesn't seem to be any effort put into the sector and it's completely distressing for families. It's distressing for those employees. It's distressing for a whole community because there isn't any attention that's being paid to this stuff, and it's simply not good enough.
LAUDER: Now, the Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck, just yesterday saying there's no need for him to resign. The aged care sector is not in crisis, and he says that the opposition doesn't have any plan to improve aged care sector. What would you say to Richard Colbeck?
MCBAIN: Well, I'd say instead of heading to the cricket, you might want to show up at a COVID committee and talk about some of the issues that are happening in aged care. It's time for the government to actually sit down with real people. We had the Nurses and Midwife Federation striking at the front of Parliament House last week, talking about some of the issues in aged care. And there was not one government member that went out to listen to the real-world experiences of carers or nurses in our aged care system. I mean, how are you ever going to learn anything if you're not talking to real people?
LAUDER:  Back to Currawarna. What's next? What are you going to be doing to try and stop it from closing or at least to find better options for the families?
MCBAIN: Look, I will work with our community to see what we can do. I've already had a conversation with mayor Narelle Davis. I understand there will be a meeting convened of local state and federal parliamentarians very shortly and we'll discuss all those options. Again, this is on the back of uncertainty about Delegate MPS. We really need to work together as a community because as I said, it just seems to be that we're the ones that always lose the services first, and we're told to suck it up. And we travel because that's what we do. And we very rarely whinge or complain or ask or want assistance. But in the times that we do ask, in the times that we do need it, we expect a response from governments, and they really need to step up right now.
LAUDER: And just quickly and only because Jim Molan joined in on this program yesterday saying that the Chinese Communist Party wants the Labor Party in power in Australia. And yesterday, we saw the Prime Minister accused the deputy Labor leader of being a Manchurian Candidate. What do you think about the debate around national security and the level of debate at the moment?
MCBAIN: What a load of bumpkin. We are in a state in the world at the moment where the region is really unstable. And instead of trying to keep Australia as a united force on national security issues, we're seeing this ridiculous partisan push that goes no way into solving the real issues that we're dealing with on the ground. And can I just tell you, I spoke to wineries yesterday, all of whom export about 40% of their products overseas. A huge number and Eden-Monaro. And every time this government, starts to talk tough on China, these people miss out. These real people on the ground. 80% of our wool exports go to China, and there's no tariffs on those yet. But jeez if there are, again, real people miss out. That's the type of problem we have right now. Is this government thinking that they're playing tough? Except what they're doing is hurting real people, real businesses, and real livelihoods.
LAUDER: Kristy McBain thanks for your time this morning. 
MCBAIN: Thank you. 
LAUDER: Kristy McBain she's the Member for Eden-Monaro.