Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Ageing, and it is in relation to the 108-bed Wallace Lodge in North Geelong and the 108-bed Alan David Lodge in Grovedale. I know the minister is aware of the talks between Barwon Health and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) over staffing hours at these two aged-care facilities.
It was reported in the Geelong Advertiser on Monday of this week that Barwon Health plans to cut 176 nursing hours a week from Wallace Lodge in North Geelong and 148 hours a week from Alan David Lodge in Grovedale. The article reports the Victorian secretary of the ANMF, Lisa Fitzpatrick, as stating that this cut to nursing hours is the equivalent of almost nine full-time nurses, making it impossible for staff to maintain appropriate care levels.
The article also describes Lisa Fitzpatrick as saying the planned cut in nursing hours will result in delays in administering medications, bathing and showering residents, and changing dressings, as well as patients having to wait longer for nurses to respond to their calls.
This is not to mention the fact that the significant cuts planned for the facilities will mean that the extremely hardworking nurses, who are already stretched to the limit, will have to shoulder a further increased workload. A decision to cut staffing hours will be detrimental to the high-care patients residing at these two facilities as well as to the nurses who take care of these patients. There have also been reports of nurses being directed by Barwon Health to keep the cuts secret from residents and their families.
More than 200 aged-care beds have already closed under this state government, with departmental figures showing that there have been five closures of public aged-care facilities since 2010. Three of these facilities — one in Ballarat, one in Kyneton and one in Koroit — are in my electorate. The Premier has foreshadowed moves to the full privatisation of aged care in Victoria, which will severely limit choice for elderly Victorians living in rural and regional Victoria. There is concern in the Geelong community that the reduction in nursing hours is an attempt to lower the operating costs of these facilities and make them more attractive to private buyers in the event of their sale.
I call on the minister to give an absolute guarantee to the people of Geelong and the residents of Alan David Lodge in Grovedale and Wallace Lodge in North Geelong and their families that these facilities will not be privatised.