Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
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Dedicated care and love but with little reward
Last week my wife, who is in aged care, messed herself while trying to sit on the toilet. A carer was called and I watched as the young woman bagged the clothes, with kind words calmed my wife, washed her and then dressed her in clean clothes. The bathroom had to be washed down. Throughout this unpleasant job, the woman – from a foreign country and on the lowest pay – did her work cheerfully and with great compassion.
So when reading the news about the budget, I thought that Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg might have thrown a small pay increase to these low-paid, hard-working carers, but no. It is a pity this government seems to show no compassion or, indeed, any real interest in this industry other than answering in part the royal commission’s findings.
Of course, the union that represents the carers could go to the Fair Work Commission and humbly beg for higher wages. Good luck with that.
Name withheld, Blackburn
Give the staff permanency and pay them well
Patricia Sparrow, chief executive of Aged and Community Services Australia (Opinion, 13/5), claims a “big win” for older people and aged care in the budget but several big issues are cause for concern. Much of the increased funding is promised after 2021-2022 which, as some experienced commentators have pointed out, means it is a promise, not an iron-clad commitment.
Sparrow supports paying people “what they deserve” but the aged care workforce has been underpaid for more than 30 years, without Aged and Community Services Australia supporting wage justice or a work value case. Nurses are paid less in aged care than in hospitals, so that is where they work. Carers are paid less than adult supermarket workers, so many work there.
The Victorian aged care industry was told almost 30 years ago that staff wanted permanency and regular, part-time work but they still endure casual, split-shift work along with their low pay. Workers should not break out the champagne yet: a lift in their wages and conditions is still a long way off. As well as better quality care.
Megan Stoyles, Aireys Inlet
Attract staff by introducing real careers
If the federal government was serious about resolving the aged care problem, it would instigate careers in aged care, with proper qualifications and proper pay. Aged care could provide tens of thousands of real jobs for people interested in professional care careers. Throwing money into the current model is just to distract from a tragedy – it will probably end up in the pockets of the providers and neither the aged, nor the harassed staff, will benefit.
Coalition governments pride themselves on “small government”, which is just another way of passing the buck, via outsourcing as much as possible to the private (profit-making) sector. Thus the government is not responsible for outcomes. What a sad way of demonstrating leadership.
Judith Paphazy, Cape Schanck
Insist the the extra money be spent on residents
The government has responded, in the budget, to the aged care crisis by providing an extra $10 per resident, per day to providers. Unfortunately this relies on the goodwill and morals of the private operators to actually spend the money on the residents and not “trouser” it. History shows us that private operators have mainly looked after their own interests. Why didn’t the government mandate that the extra funding be spent on the residents?
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
We need a fair, open system to evaluate facilities
Expert personnel could be used to evaluate aged care facilities and publicise their ratings online. Clients, families, staff and administrators would provide information that would see facilities rated against standardised criteria. Underperformance would reap its own reward.
Bill Burns, Bendigo
Each case on its merits
My two daughters are on a flight to London, having had two Pfizer jabs each and holding “vax visas” to allow them to fly. They will be in private isolation for two weeks on arrival, spend three weeks with their father who is dying of cancer, and fly home to be put in an hotel in Sydney for two weeks – the most dangerous section of their trip.
To be put through another COVID-19 jab after severe side effects from the second jab is unconscionable – “Call for vaccines on arrival to stop spread” (The Age, 13/5). They could isolate in their own homes on return. One size does not fit all travellers.
Jonne Herbert, Kew East
No excuses: vaccinate
We are in the same position now as in February 2020. Except. The variants of COVID-19 are more deadly and 15per cent of people in hotel quarantine have the virus. Last year it was 2per cent. Am I worried? Yes. Can I do anything? Yes. Keep encouraging people to get vaccinated if eligible. I am at work every day, making it easy for my patients, and there are nurses and doctors everywhere doing the same. Do not “wait and see”. It might be too late. Get vaccinated. And please wear a mask.
Lyndy Ronan, nurse and medical practice owner, Yarrawonga
We were in the packed audience in the Art Centre’s Playhouse on Wednesday night to see Jonathan Biggins explain The Gospel According to Paul. While the show was first rate, the audience’s sense of COVID complacency was troubling, with very few people wearing masks and social distancing non-existent. It was not much better on the trams to and from the theatre. Why this lack of commonsense and consideration for others? Wake up, Victoria, or we will be back in lockdown land.
Judy and Nick Jans, Princes Hill
Please, wear your mask
Perhaps if there were policing of the so-called mandatory wearing of mask on trains and trams, we would be not so worried about possible transmission by this returned traveller. When I travelled last week on both trains and trams in Melbourne, there were signs and announcements but a significant number of passengers were not wearing masks. Instead of getting on crowded trams, I caught taxis and the drivers wore masks.
Julie Carrick, Leopold
Need to enforce the rule
Commuters are concerned that many passengers on trams and trains are not wearing masks, and have called for inspectors to act on this. However, tram inspectors have no power to enforce usage. Two inspectors told me that it was not covered in the Transport Act.
I was also told this when I rang Metro’s complaints line about a separate matter. I was surprised that the woman I spoke to said “COVID-19 will be over soon”. Wrong. Change the act and start enforcing the rules. We have been lucky so far, but Russian roulette always ends badly.
David Hood, Richmond
Servicing our record debt
Discussion regarding debt would be enhanced if we considered the cost of servicing it, rather than the level of debt itself. The budget needs to be able to service the debt with our current record low level of interest rates.
Brian Benger, Fairfield
Our not-clever country
When will it dawn on the federal government that cutting the funding of universities and inhibiting their research capacity, while also touting for overseas organisations to invest in the manufacture of new drugs, is pointless? Australia is at risk of being known as a country that despises intellectual activity.
Juliet Flesch, Kew
All power to the women
As a lifetime Labor supporter, it hurts me to watch the cringeworthy, lacklustre budget response of Richard Chalmers and Anthony Albanese. Their conservative timidity seems to be unaware that the Coalition already has the “grey men in suits” constituency well and truly locked in. Labor needs to change the narrative and flick the switch to its outstanding women – Tanya Plibersek, Deborah O’Neill, Penny Wong, Ged Kearney, Kristina Keneally, Katy Gallagher, Catherine King, Teri Butler and Anne Aly, to name a few. Labor’s dullard blokes are not being heard. Unleash the women – it’s time.
Brian Derum, Fitzroy North
A history of neglect
This budget is an admission of past neglect, cashing up all the services the government should have been funding properly during the past eight years. The series of royal commissions and inquiries finding deep-seated failures in many key sectors backs this up.
Michael Meszaros, Alphington
Dreaming of winnings
In the 2019 budget, we were told we were already in surplus even though it would not happen until next year. This time it is all premised on everyone being vaccinated by Christmas. I am buying a Rolls – based on winning Tattslotto (without a ticket)
Peter Cook, Essendon
Our right to a fair share
With the booming profits that miners are making from iron ore, it is time to consider a better tax on our resources. These minerals are part of our “common wealth” and we should all benefit from their sale. The miners are entitled to a fair return, but so are we.
Graham Reynolds, Soldiers Hill
Immersed in reading
Re “Schools find a new way with words” (The Age, 13/5). Before a child or adult can learn to read, they need to experience the joy and pleasure that reading can bring. Listening to a well-written story is key to this experience. My concern is that teachers are doing less and less role modelling by reading for enjoyment, including reading out loud to their students. Readers are children and adults who read and read and read, not because they are forced to but because it is pleasurable and builds empathy with the world.
Pam Saunders, teacher-librarian, Clifton Hill
Hold Israel to account
The violence in Jerusalem, that has spread across Gaza, is the result of Israeli attempts to evict Palestinian home owners in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem – a fact that Thomas L. Friedman neglected to mention (The Age, 13/5). He creates a narrative around religious clashes around holy days to explain the violence. The truth, however, is the violence is the result of a 54-year-old military occupation resulting in the illegal and discriminatory dispossession of the homes and land of Palestinians. That is ethnic cleansing and is not allowed under international law. Israel must be held to account for its actions.
Bruce Francis, Brunswick
In defence of Israel
If the photographer (The Age, 12/5) had moved a few kilometres down the road, the photo on the front page would have been an Israeli parent running to a bomb shelter, fleeing Palestinian rockets.
President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, has encouraged this current round of Palestinian unrest to take attention away from another cancelled election and the fact that he would rather spend Palestinian funds on rockets than on vaccinating the Palestinian people. The world needs to demand better from the Palestinian leadership, instead of the knee-jerk blaming of Israel.
Reeva Lederman, Caulfield
Fair go for all Victorians
The NSW government has launched Dine and Discover NSW where every resident over 18 years can receive four $25 vouchers, to the value of $100, for dining and recreation activities. Contrast this with the shambolic system in Victoria where $200 accommodation credits are snapped up quickly and thousands of residents miss out. There has to be a fairer and better way.
Tim Nolan, Brighton
Refugees under pressure
The government plans to fast-track applications for protection for more than 1000 asylum seekers who are on bridging visas, with the expectation they will be completed by June 30. Having waited eight years to have their applications heard, these people are now expected to be prepared within a couple of weeks for an interview, the outcome of which will affect the rest of their lives. Preparation for these interviews is a complex process, requiring adequate time and legal assistance. To proceed with such unseemly haste is a denial of natural justice and carries a real risk of error and the possibility of returning vulnerable people to situations of danger in their home countries. This is against Australia’s international obligations.
Lucille Forbes, East Brighton
Our forgotten youth
This week, a 13-year-old boy died after an industrial bin in which he was sleeping with two others was emptied into a garbage truck (The Age, 12/5). The responsibility for this tragedy falls on all of us.
Each night across our nation, hundreds of young lives tempt fate as they seek refuge from a world that seems to have forgotten them. In this world, child protective services are bureaucratic layers that often sit at arm’s length from the lived experiences of the youth they hope to support. We need something much closer to the dark streets and alley ways. Something that is immediate and non-judgmental in the provision of comfort though a chat, a meal and a warm bed.
Jaroslaw Kotiw, Strathfieldsaye
An aggressive Sales or …
I did not enjoy Leigh Sales’ interview of the Prime Minister (7.30, 12/5). Her technique of loading up a question with as many “stingers” as possible and then returning with multiple interruptions was very grating. I would have preferred that Laura Tingle undertook the interview.
David Fry, Moonee Ponds
… an aggressive PM?
The Prime Minister’s attitude to women was graphically demonstrated on 7.30. Leigh Sales started a possibly awkward question and he raised his voice and shouted over her. Would he have tried that with Kerry O’Brien?
Des Crowle, Casterton
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
A COVID-positive man travelled on a train. Thankfully we’re all wearing masks on public transport.
Peter McGill, Lancefield
Less than half of commuters on my train wore masks this week. I haven’t seen inspectors for months. Increase patrols.
Nick Watson, Camberwell
COVID or not, it’s the flu season. It’s a good idea to mask up.
Anne Flanagan, Box Hill North
Frydenberg’s economic heroes, Reagan and Thatcher, must be turning in their graves.
Les Anderson, Woodend
Will the funds going to aged care providers mean a pay rise for their executives?
Lisa Bishop, Macleod
An extra $10 a person, per day to providers. Will menus change? Chicken nuggets to drumsticks, chips to roast spuds, peas to beans?
George Reed, Wheelers Hill
Higher education left to bleed. Why is the Coalition afraid of educated people and their critical thinking?
Henry Haszler, Eltham
A brave budget. We should be very hopeful of a wonderful future and proud of our leaders.
Diana Goetz, Mornington
It’s a miracle. A socialist oriented budget from the Coalition. Pity about the privatised profiteering.
Bruce Watson, Clifton Springs
Which of the promises are the core ones?
William Hines, Mornington
The PM on 7.30 (12/5). “Well, Leigh …” Invariably what follows is convoluted obfuscation.
Colleen Heatley, Drouin West
Debt up, fossil fuel subsidies up, emissions up, temperature up, biodiversity down, despair rising.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
More pointless football words: We gave 110per cent effort and lost by less than a kick.
Clive Wright, Glen Iris
Clearly Laming did his empathy training with a financial adviser.
David Kerr, Geelong
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