Newmarch House coronial investigation welcomed
4th Jun 2020
A coronial investigation into the COVID-19 deaths at Newmarch House is welcome as it should provide the opportunity for much needed scrutiny of the issues that led to the tragedy, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
“The residents of Newmarch House and their families have legal rights and, as a community, we need to understand what went wrong in the management of the outbreak at this facility,” said ALA spokesperson, lawyer and aged care advocate, Ms Catherine Henry.
“One of the significant and ongoing issues in aged care is the lack of transparency and accountability. The investigation by the NSW Coroner provides the opportunity for open review of the situation and will draw the Federal Government’s attention to the urgent underlying issues.
“Many of the issues experienced by the residents of Newmarch House and their families during the crisis seem to have been caused by systemic problems experienced in aged care homes more broadly, such as a lack of experienced staff.”
The ALA says failures in governance, accountability, policy and the regulatory framework are all evident in the current residential aged care system and have contributed to the tragic situation at Newmarch House.
“An underlying cause of the systemic problems in aged care is the Aged Care Act 1997 itself. It is weighted in favour of providers and has promoted the privatisation of services and competition, allowing profits to prevail over quality of care,” said Ms Henry.
“We need a new Aged Care Act – one that ensures transparency and accountability and includes an independent tribunal to hear complaints of substandard care.
The ALA is a national association of lawyers, academics and other professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of the individual.