This speech was delivered on 24/11/22.
We have seen the horror stories about sludge on a plate—meals you wouldn't even feed to your dog.
This is the food being fed to our elderly and vulnerable in aged-care facilities—to our parents and grandparents. There's no way they're getting the nutritional value they need from those meals. The royal commission into aged care said that up to 50 per cent of residents were suffering malnutrition. For our elderly population, malnutrition can lead to more falls and a higher risk of infections and disease. To put it in a nutshell: for some people, malnutrition can be a death sentence.
Since the royal commission, a lot of residential facilities have upped their game; they're preparing better meals. But a lot of them aren't. There are still residents being fed on less than $10 a day. Aged-care homes were given extra money to fix this. Some of them pocketed it and kept on feeding the residents sludge. That's not good enough. It's time to have someone who is independent take a look at this.
We could send a dietician in to look at what food the home is feeding to people. The dietician would make sure residents are getting all the nutrients and good stuff that they need from the meals. A dietician could also assess residents at least once a year for malnutrition—just like a check-up from the doctor. They would make sure that the residents were healthy and, if they weren't healthy, they could refer them to someone to get help.
We've made a lot of progress in aged care since the royal commission, but we still have a long way to go. The residents of these homes have worked hard all their lives, just to end up in a facility that doesn't even feed them properly. I hope that if I'm in a home one day that I'm in a facility that will give me the decency and the respect to feed me a proper meal.