“How did it come to this?”: reflections on the Aged Care Royal Commission report


NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda reflects on the Aged Care Royal Commission’s Interim report from the departure lounge of Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

Australia, how did it come to this?

I’m sitting at Melbourne Airport, and decided to use my delayed flight time to read the snapshot of the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care. For over a decade, I have known – and my union has known – that the sector has been in crisis. I have seen the stories in the newspapers. I have seen the shocking footage over time. I have seen the industry deteriorate since John Howard changed the Aged Care Act in 1997.

But nothing prepared me for this.

I saw it all laid bare in front of me, in black and white. And as I read the report, I cried – in public. Despite years of campaigning by my union, it’s been difficult to get people to understand what was happening to their parents, grandparents and friends who were in Aged Care. I cried, because I had felt like a failure. Until today.

Now it’s out there – the ugly, shameful truth of what was happening in the Aged Care sector. We as a country have a responsibility to fix this. Our frail aged should not be subject to this callous system of neglect for one more day.

Action starts today – and it starts by ensuring that this means the Morrison Government gets over its attitude towards the elderly, and starts fixing this system now.


  1. I agree with what you say, the elderly should not be treated as they are. Let’s take a look at public hospitals and how the elderly are treated. I work. In aged care and when our residents come back from hospital they have lost large amounts of weight, mobility and independence, they come back with pressure wounds, severe excoriation and they return with continence pads that have not been changed for hours. The hospitals have not been included in the royal commission.
    I take it personally when the press is merciless in their attack of our facility and we have had 0 abuse issues, we are harassed in the streets and shop owners refuse to serve staff who work at our facility.
    This is a small town with strong opinions and extreme exaggerations by the media are the cause of this. Staff are leaving the aged care system in their droves which is burdening the remaining staff further and increasing the risks to our precious residents.
    The documentation requirements takes further care time from hands on care. I went into aged care from critical care 5 years ago and the documentation in aged care is more then quadruple of that.
    Non of these aspects are in the interim report.
    How can it be acceptable for carers to be trained for 6 weeks and then be qualified to care for people with such high needs and 1 RN for 85 residents.
    The majority of staff in aged care are people that are working in australia to get their visas, they have no training in australia and they are left to be in change of 85 precious people with very inexperienced carers. Its time to train visa RNs on what is acceptable care in Australia just as they do if a doctor who has trained overseas coming to work in Australia
    There is no support for the staff who remain in aged care because they love what they do. Moral is very low making it even harder to work under current pressure.
    Yes the system needs to be fixed, I agree absolutely but we cannot reach the new standards with staffing and unreasonable requirements.

  2. “What a sorry state of affairs “.
    I’ve just returned from a hearing of the Aged Care Commission in Mudgee, NSW.
    Aged Care certainly is in need of urgent reform;
    I know this from personnel experience with my husband being in care last year and having worked in Community and in a MPS locally until three years ago, as an RN..

  3. There are some great things happening in Aged Care but overall the system needs an overhaul and urgent injection of funds by Commonwealth and state governments, with good governance.


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