AASW position paper on aged care: Is there a right to dignity and shelter?

If you were interested in my post on who pays for nursing home care, you might also want to read the AASW position paper, Ageing in Australia. It takes a human rights perspective and is written with care and compassion. It attacks a prevalent view in western culture; that older people are a costly burden.

The content however is generic. It could easily be the position paper of any progressive organisation connected to services or policy for older people. It would be far better to work in partnership with like-minded organisations. We would be able to pool resources, as well as establishing relationships with our natural allies. We should reach out to consumer groups in particular.

A pure human rights approach leaches this issue of the underlying political struggles over money and power. Older people who need twenty four hour nursing care do not have a “human right” to a private room let alone an ensuite. This is a political argument about what Australians consider to be basic care, what we should provide universally, and who should pay for it.

The gap continues to widen between rich and poor, and the neo liberal policies of “user pays” means poorer citizens are corralled into the cheaper end of the market.

But at the moment our government is sticking up for a different set of rights; the right to be a bigot, the right of our security forces to dip into our privacy at will, the right to maltreat asylum seekers and the right to make a buck.


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