31 October 2019

The Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has put neoliberalism (aka the Hawke-Keating Legacy) in the dock: “[T]he ‘marketisation and individualisation’ of aged care … has been occurring since the 1980s. In particular, Governments have placed their focus on ‘consumer-driven’ care, the provision of care in people’s homes, increasing competition within the aged care market, and reducing ‘unnecessary’ regulation.” This “has generally been accepted” by review after review that has failed to solve the problems, but now: “It is time for a reality check. … The structure of the current system has been framed around the idea of a ‘market’ for aged care services where older people are described as ‘clients’ or ‘customers’ who are able to choose between competitively marketed services. But many older people are not in a position to meaningfully negotiate prices, services or care standards with aged care providers. The notion that most care is ‘consumer-directed’ is just not true. Despite appearances, despite rhetoric, there is little choice with aged care. It is a myth that aged care is an effective consumer-driven market. … It is clear that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required. This will be the central purpose of our Final Report”.