Age Discrimination Commissioner heads COVID-19 ageing panel

Image of elderly people holding hands.
Health experts will discuss the vulnerabilities of Australia’s aged care system amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Serious problems that coronavirus (COVID-19) has exposed in Australia’s aged care system will be among issues tackled by eminent health experts at a high-level virtual panel discussion next week.

Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson will headline the panel on Tuesday 6 October to explore how COVID-19 has exacerbated issues affecting older Australians and how we can better meet our ageing population’s needs.

Joining Dr Patterson will be Professor John Pollaers – Chair of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce; Associate Professor Briony Dow – Director of the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI); advocate and current aged care resident Merle Mitchell AM; and host Professor Shitij Kapur, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Health).

Professor Kapur said that the panellists would bring profound insights to a range of topics including the current state of aged care, and the need and appetite for reform.

“As it has with so many of society’s systems, COVID-19 has revealed the vulnerabilities in Australia’s aged care sector,” Professor Kapur said.

“But we’ve seen some remarkable bipartisan responses to help protect society from the health, economical and societal impacts of COVID-19. So a question I’ll be posing to our panellists is whether COVID-19 offers us a chance to reset – to bring together all levels of government, business, the not-for-profit sector and individuals to devise a better approach to keeping Australians safe, connected and engaged as they age.”

Other topics likely to be discussed at the event include elder abuse, age discrimination in the workforce and the risk of homelessness for older women – all issues key to Dr Patterson’s work at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“COVID-19 has heightened the risk of elder abuse in Australia, and the economic impact of the pandemic means more older people are reporting that finding work has become harder,” Dr Patterson said.

“I’d like to see more people – young and old – invested in these issues and finding solutions together. As I say to people I meet through my work, the culture they set now is the culture they will inherit.”

What: Impact of coronavirus on older people: a way forward
When:Tuesday 6 October 2.30pm