“‘Care’ was replaced by the Lamborghini”
Kos Samaras laments the commercialisation of aged care, and how that has affected the way our elderly has been treated.
In 1997 the word ‘Care’ was replaced by the Lamborghini.
In 1997, the fate of millions of Australian was diverted onto a different path. Back then, many of them were looking forward to retirement. For much of their life, they had worked hard in this country’s rope, vehicle, food and other manufacturing plants. They gave birth to children, watched them grow into adults and looked forward to grand kids.
Back in 1997, the John Howard federal government removed the ‘care’ from Aged Care (Aged Care Act 1997). In other words, any money provided to aged care providers by taxpayers no longer had to be exclusively spent on caring for residence. The result?
Private equity firms, new foreign investors, superannuation and property real estate investment trusts entered the residential aged care market. We can safely assume that in 1997 there was not a sudden increase in the care and wellbeing of our elderly Australians. There was money to be made. Big money.
Since 1997, the increase in unexplained deaths within aged care facilities has skyrocketed. Reported levels of abuse and neglect also followed.
You see, John Howard understood very well what he was doing. He was condemning my parents’ generation to a brutal and inhumane end. Note, the reference to my parents’ generation does not extend to John Howard’s social circles. He along with his ilk knew they would never have to live in these money making human factories of misery.
Last year, during Victoria’s second COVID wave, the monetisation of an entire generation of Australians was put on display. Aged care facilities that primarily relied on labour hire companies for their workforce, were engulfed by this virus. So too were the countless migrants who came to this country during the 1950s and 1960s, full of dreams and aspirations.
For many, their working lives were improved because of the many conditions won by the labour movement in this country. But sadly, that protection could not possibly extend into their retirement. John Howard could not get to them during their working lives, but he sure got to them when their strength gave way, when their minds fogged over with age. Before COVID, thousands perished due to abuse and during the pandemic, many joined them.
In 2020, many within our community lost parents, some lost both parents, including friends and people we grew up with.
This happened to them because the ‘Care’ was replaced by the Lamborghini.