United for older people
May 7, 2022
The 16th Assembly has passed a proposal that both celebrate older people and prioritise advocacy to ensure the dignity and care of older Australians.
Under the proposal, Assembly members endorsed UnitingCare Australia to prioritise advocacy that urges the Australian Government to fully implement the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission and for increases to the wages of aged care staff, with the attraction and retention of staff a key component of the growing aged care crisis in Australia.
A second area of advocacy endorsed is the development of an aged international covenant on the rights of older person.
Further, the Assembly endorsed the celebration of an Older Persons Sunday in the Uniting Church each year and the establishment of a network for people concerned about ageing.
In presenting the proposal, Heather Watson said UnitingCare Australia had been a strong voice urging the Government to address the broken system of aged care in Australia and commended the leadership of the Uniting Church agency alongside other aged care providers in addressing the crisis.
Heather said the long and proud record of UnitingCare Australia and its predecessors in providing residential and home care for older Australians and the wide-reaching network of community services meant UnitingCare was well placed to engage and support issues affecting older Australians.
“We continue to work in a broken system which was laid bare in a report entitled Neglect from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 pandemic on older people,” said Heather.
The rationale to the proposal noted that the Australian Aged Care system is facing a crisis and it is important for the Church to act now. It noted that the report and recommendations of the Royal Commission provided a once in a generation opportunity for the Australian Government - working co-operatively with service providers – to transform aged care in Australia.
“A key component of the growing crisis in aged care is the capacity to attract and retain enough workers. Aged care workers are the lowest paid caring workforce and yet are doing some of the most important work in the nation,” the rationale read.
In seconding the proposal, Alison Overeem began by acknowledging the Elders of the Gubbi Gubbi Country where the reconvened meeting is being held.
“Because what we are talking about in this proposal is looking after and acknowledging the Elders in this Country, in my Country and your Country and paying our respects to all the wisdom in the lands that abound us,” said Alison.
“It is about how we as a Uniting Church sincerely and genuinely care for our older people and uphold and value their stories.”
“As First Peoples, care for older people is our compass, our laritja, our thread that runs through our hearts. May we all make this a priority in our mission and ministry in our whole of church tikila, our heart. May we care for those who have cared for and supported us. May we all be united friends of our older people.”
The proposal notes that Uniting Friends of Ageing is a new national network within the life of the Uniting Church open to all members interested in and concerned about ageing and aged care.
UnitingCare Australia is providing worship resources to assist congregations in the celebration of Older Persons Sunday each year, which may take place for example on the first Sunday of October, or another day of the year.