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Daughter of murdered woman calls for Royal Commission

Marie Darragh and her daughter Charli Darragh at St Andrews nursing home in Ballina.
Marie Darragh and her daughter Charli Darragh at St Andrews nursing home in Ballina. Contributed

A COALITION of grass roots aged care advocates representing thousands of concerned citizens across Australia have joined forces to call for a Royal Commission into residential aged care.

Action of Elderly Abuse Now group spokesperson Charli Maree Darragh, whose mother was murdered in a residential aged care facility at Ballina in 2014, said the ABC 7.30 report's recent two part expose of horrific examples of poor care and standards in accredited aged care facilities, had promoted advocates to take action.

"Since the murder of my mother in 2014, the residential aged care system has got worse. Every day, I and many others receive emails from frustrated families, relatives and aged care staff too scared to speak out, highlighting shocking examples of poor care and reports of nursing staff numbers being slashed," Ms Darragh said.

"The official figures back up what the community is telling us. Reportable assaults in aged care facilities have increased for the past three years. The last publicly available report released by the Federal Government in 2015/16, showed that nearly 3000 aged care residents were victims of reportable assaults.

"What is no coincidence is the increase in reportable assaults and media reports of deaths and neglect of residents in aged care follows years of aged care operators reducing nurse to patient ratios and a systematic dismantling of the nursing profession by governments and aged care operators focussed on saving dollars rather than saving resident's lives."

The grass roots coalition said the fact there were three or four reviews of aged care currently taking place, highlighted the system was in chaos.

"We've seen review after review take place for a number of years. Nothing changes. Only a Royal Commission will give aged care residents, families, relatives, aged carers, whistleblowers and nursing staff the opportunity to tell it like it is without fear or favour. Only then will we uncover the levels of abuse and poor care that is taking place and highlight what needs to change."

Ms Darragh said the grass roots coalition hoped a Royal Commission would:

. Be a chance for residents and their families to tell their stories and have major systemic change take place.

. Recommend changes to facilitate better care standards including a mandated increase in nurse to staff ratios.

. Restore nursing to its former pre-eminent position as a valued profession so that the best and most caring people are attracted to aged care nursing as a career and paid accordingly.

. Lead to a complete overhaul of the 'tick the box' aged care accreditation scheme and an increase in random inspections of aged care facilities.

. Fully investigate the use of CCTV in aged care facilities as a safety and security measure.

The Action of Elderly Abuse Now group and includes advocacy groups Angels for the Elderly Foundation, Bill's Advocacy for Aged Care, Greysafe, The Rejoice and Reclaim Connection, Dementia is not a sentence it is a word, Lucy's Legacy, Legacy for the Elderly, Age Care Watch, AAP: Age Pension Power, People's Commission into Age Care Australia.

"We are ramping up support for the Royal Commission and have been in contact with close to 100,000 people who are either members of our advocacy groups or supporters of our petitions on change.org," Ms Darragh said.

"We will be asking concerned Australians to lobby their local member to call on the Prime Minister to initiate a Royal Commission and said it would consider running a marginal seat campaign at the next Federal election should its calls for a Royal Commission go unheeded."

Topics:  aged care murder royal commission


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