Published: 23/05/2024
Category: Retired Unionists Network
Published: 23/05/2024
Category: Retired Unionists Network

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The RUN Committee has identified a number of major issues for consideration in the coming year, whilst we do not expect any of the matters to be resolved in the short term, nonetheless, we will continue lobbying, viz:- 

  • Establishing more Retired Unionists’ Groups; 
  • Monitoring the progress of Aged Care Reforms; 
  • Lobbying for Affordable & Secure Housing for the Aged;  
  • Demanding a liveable Aged & Part Aged Pension; 
  • Opposing War and AUKUS. 

In this issue of our newsletter we are reporting on the progress of Aged Care reforms and the Marrickville Declaration opposing AUKUS and the ACTU’s Statement on Gaza (dated  22 April 2024). 

Monitoring the Progress of Aged Care Reforms in Australia

The Final Report by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety containing 148 recommendations and delivered a damning report on the Aged Care industry in Australia.  The Morrison Government accepted the Final Report on 26 February 2021 and did little. 

To put Aged Care into context; there are approximately 1.3 million seniors living in aged care (approx. 1 in 20 or 5%) living in 3,200 residential aged care facilities and approximately 330,000 direct care workers (3% of the Australian workforce). 

In essence, the Royal Commission Final Report says it all: 

  • “Later life should be appreciated as time for living, not for biding time.”
  • … “aged care services are strictly rationed … This is unacceptable.”
  • “Aged care is a social service, not a commodity that can be outsourced so it can be bought or sold at the lowest price.”
  • The current Aged Care Act is focused on the financial relationship between the Australian Government and the providers … rather than on the rights of older people to the care that they need.”
  • “We recommend a universal entitlement to aged care, which guarantees access to the level of care and supports each older person, is assessed as needing.”

Progress to date:

The Albanese Government have already made major changes to aged care, including:

  • introducing the 24/7 registered nurse responsibility in aged care homes;
  • introducing an average of 200 mandatory care minutes per aged care resident per day;
  • establishing a Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline for aged care residents;
  • introducing Star Ratings to help older people compare aged care homes and make informed choices;
  • funding a 15% wage rise to benefit more than 250,000 aged care workers;
  • capping care management and package management fees for Home Care Packages;
  • introducing face-to-face support in Services Australia service centres;
  • ensuring specialisations on My Aged Care are independently verified;
  • expanding the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program, by adding consumer experience and quality of life;
  • introducing a Code of Conduct for Aged Care to ensure services are delivered in a safe, competent and respectful manner.

The Commonwealth Government and the Department of Health and Ageing have been very busy over the past 2 years.  There is still more that needs to be done.  The RUN Committee will provide additional reports into the future.

Opposing War and AUKUS: The Marrickville Declaration of 3 February 2024

An extraordinary meeting was held in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, on 3 February 2024, with participants from more than 30 community organisations endorsed the Marrickville Declaration.  It is a document that highlights the dangers of the AUKUS agreement and commits the signatories to a campaign for the Australian government to withdraw from the pact. 

The participants set themselves the ambitious, yet necessary, goal to galvanise broad social support to oppose AUKUS and the war drive against China being pursued by the United States and blindly followed by the Australian government.  Together, they established a committee to “Mobilise Against AUKUS and War”, which will cooperate with existing labour movement and peace groups, faith groups and broad progressive organisations to build a stronger peace and nuclear disarmament movement.

Participants at this meeting will work together to keep Australia out of war and stop preparation for war, through campaigning for an end to AUKUS. The huge public spend on nuclear submarines, and the open-ended commitment to foreign military priorities, are to the detriment of addressing urgent community and social needs and priorities for a resilient, safe and peaceful Australian society. 

The Marrickville Declaration reads as follows.

“We agree that the AUKUS agreement has grave significance for Australia because:

  • it leads the nation away from peace by preparing it for war;
  • it creates enemies, where Australia should have none;
  • its exorbitant cost takes funds away from much-needed social programs;
  • it has opened the way for an arms race in the Asian region;
  • much of its detail that should be in the public domain remains secret and unavailable to the public;
  • it endangers Australia and jeopardises
  • it makes Australia complicit in the deployment of weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and conventional, the use of which will be inevitably directed largely at civilian populations and infrastructure;
  • it is an affront to Australia’s Pacific neighbours and our commitment to a nuclear free Pacific under the Treaty of Rarotonga (the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty);
  • it critically detracts from the need for climate action, global warming being our real security threat, and
  • it would impose high level nuclear waste dumping on the lands of First Nations Peoples.

We conclude that AUKUS is entirely contrary to the interests of the Australian nation and its people.

We therefore resolve to:

  • oppose AUKUS through all non-violent means available;
  • initiate a concerted campaign with the objective of stopping the whole AUKUS agreement;
  • open this campaign to all individuals and organisations sharing this objective, and
  • promote peace, instead of encouraging preparation for war.

We call on the Australian government to:

  • provide to the public full details of the AUKUS agreement, as it stands, including its scope, ramifications, timing and cost, and
  • initiate a thorough investigation into appropriate ways for ensuring national security, including through the development of a truly independent foreign and military policy.” 

ACTU Statement on Gaza: Media Release  22 April, 2024

The ACTU made the following statement on Gaza, the RUN Committee is of the view that it should be republished in this newsletter to all retired trade unionists.

The Australian Union movement is a movement of peace and respect for all races and nationalities. We oppose war, racism, and oppression. We act in solidarity.

The Australian Union movement is horrified by the escalating violence and death toll of civilians in Gaza. The ACTU reiterates its statements and resolution of 19 October 2023 and 23 February 2024 and continues to call for an urgent and permanent ceasefire and the release of hostages and political prisoners.

The Australian Union movement is a movement of many cultures, communities, nationalities and faiths, we call on all community, civil society organisations and faith groups in Australia to build unity, oppose racism and promote cultural harmony and tolerance throughout their membership. 

We condemn the deaths of over 34,000 civilians since 7 October including (1200 Israelis and over 33,000 Palestinians). We condemn the killing of Zomi Frankcom and other aid workers, including those working for Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA partner MA’AN development centre who have been working on emergency relief in Gaza.

The situation facing people in Gaza is dire: two million people are facing food insecurity. Food shortages have exceeded famine levels and mass death is imminent. The ACTU condemns the use of starvation as a weapon of war and urges Israel to comply with the International Court of Justice’s Order to take immediate steps to prevent acts of genocide, punish incitement to genocide, and facilitate the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza. Israel must immediately provide food and essentials to people in Gaza and ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian aid.

The ACTU welcomes the Australian Government reinstating funding to UNRWA, appointing a special advisor to assess the IDF investigation of the killing of Zomi Frankcom, and calling for a two state solution.

The ACTU is deeply concerned, however, at evidence that Australia companies supply parts used as part of global supply chains , including to F-35 fighter jets. Israel utilises F-35 fighter jets to drop bombs on Gaza. Under international law, Australia has obligations to deny exports that could or would be used to violate humanitarian law and must employ all means to prevent genocide by another state. The Australian Government must take active steps to ensure it is not contributing to breaches of international law.

The ACTU calls on the Australian Government to take immediate steps to secure peace by:

  • Using all influence, pressure, and diplomatic measures to achieve a permanent ceasefire.
  • Ending all military trade with Israel
  • Enacting targeted sanctions on Israeli officials who have called for the denial of aid, and military and civil servants denying essential food and materials to civilians of Gaza.
  • Committing additional funding of $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank

This latest escalation is part of a decades-long conflict that must be brought to a just outcome through dialogue and respect for international law, including human rights.

The ACTU calls on the Israeli Government and the Palestinian leadership to promote open, tolerant and respectful societies through adherence to democratic principles in governance, respect for human rights and equal treatment for all.

The ACTU calls for an end to the occupation of Palestine and a just and sustainable peace in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. Including the removal of illegal settlements, the withdrawal of Israel from all Palestinian lands along with the dismantling of the separation wall. In line with the ACTU’s commitment to a two-state solution with the security of borders for both nations, we call on all countries to recognise, without delay, Palestine as a sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital. This will confirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in a free and independent Palestine.”

Major issues in 2024

Major issues in 2024