At the request of Emergency Management Australia*, the Australian Defence Force is providing limited support to aged-care facilities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CAPTION: Australian Army Captain Amelia Thompson and Corporal Jade Hipkiss-Winder, Mr Roji Kurian and Royal Australian Navy Able Seaman Emily McNeill at an aged-care facility in Frankston in Victoria. Photo by Private Michael Currie.
Military planners and ADF-only quick reaction teams as well as augmentation of other efforts is currently being provided by the ADF to support aged care facilities in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
These support teams include a number of roles including team leaders, registered and enrolled nurses, and supporting personnel.
Defence said the placement of personnel was being made “in consultation with the Department of Health”.
The photo above was taken on Saturday – just two days after the federal minister responsible for aged care, Richard Colbeck, told a Senate-committee hearing there was no crisis in the aged-care sector.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison today said up to 1700 ADF members could be deployed.
However, Mr Morrison said the ADF was not a shadow workforce and could not replace skilled aged-care workers.
“They will assist across facilities including logistics and general-duties tasks – for example, screening of entrants to facilities, providing companionship to residents, supporting with meals and other non-direct-care functions, to take the pressure off qualified aged-care workers and medical staff,” Mr Morrison said.
Coincidentally, an ADF veteran started a petition on change.org on Saturday, calling on Mr Morrison to immediately deploy ADF personnel into aged care.
Petition instigator Jeremy Davie said his 97-year-old grandmother – a WWII war widow – suffered from dementia and was confined to a wheelchair.
“She single handedly raised two children, operated a trucking business, contributed to her community and the economy,” Mr Davie said.
“Now she suffers the indignity of being confined to her room, eating sub-standard meals, regularly being locked away from visitors and can’t even get her personal hygiene needs met at acceptable intervals,”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Just two days after the ‘responsible’ minister assured a Senate hearing there was no crisis in aged care, *Emergency Management Australia (the Australian government disaster and emergency management response agency) was in charge of the obvious crisis, with Defence experts deployed across four States – and ‘consulted’ the Department of Health about the jurisdictional incursion!
EDITOR’S UPDATE (27 February 2022): The above photo has been deleted from the Defence Image Library. Why? Probably for the same reason I chose to use it – it’s stark, dark and a little bit ‘in-your-face’, from a PR messaging point of view.