Why is public participation important? Governments are responsible for decisions that have both intended and often unforeseen impacts on the community. Transparent and well-managed public participation is essential to fully inform government policies and their translation into effective strategies, programs and projects (1)So why is it so elusive?

AS CPSA said at the time the aged care reforms were announced, they will lead to a financial bonanza for aged care providers and a two-class nursing home system. That two-class system and bonanza are now taking shape.

More than half (52%) of aged care residents have symptoms of depression, compared with 10-15% of older people living in the community. As well as feelings of sadness and low mood, aged care residents with depression feel uninterested in activities, hopeless about the future, guilty about the past and may desire death.

Residents subjected to the alleged events which occurred this time in a New South Wales nursing home, which included the horrors of having resident's genitalia photographed for some sick game; depriving a dying man of food; and taunting a dementia resident.

Excerpt: Submission - Review of the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme, Dr J.M. Wynne (Section 9, Appendix, Page 31 )

From semantics to doctors

The aged care "reforms" introduced in 1997 introduced a whole new range of words and concepts. These enabled a more impersonal and analytical approach. Parallels could be drawn with other activities and services. Aged care could be positioned in a broader context and its particular attributes ignored. At the same time a number of terms that were more accurate in describing the predicament of the aged had acquired connotations that were seen as depersonalising, medicalising, paternalistic or to reflect ageism. They were dropped.

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