The following letters were sent respectively, to the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, The Aged Care Commissioner, and the Department of Health and Ageing, by a concerned family member on the 18th August 2012, as a last resort effort to have their concerns addressed following ABC 7.30 Report coverage regarding rorts in aged care.

The three letters below, illustrate the points Aged Care Crisis highlighted in our submission to the Productivity Commission's Inquiry Caring for Older Australians in August 2010. Specifically, the following sections in our submission which illustrate points made in the following three letters are: 1. Government roles and responsibilities; 2. Tranparency, accountability and disclosure; 4. Complaints Investigation Scheme; 12. Ageing in place; 13. ACAT Assessments; and lastly, 13.1 When "high care" really means "low care".

The following three letters need no further introduction:

18 August, 2012


Hello Mr. Butler,

Recent reports in the media suggest that you are concerned about senior department managers ignoring evidence of rorting in the aged care industry.

The terrible treatment of my 92 year old Mother in Law by your Department was much more personal and much more direct than some rorting.

  • Your Department aided and abetted a provider who breached the act by illegally charging her a bond.
  • Your Department failed to provide my 92 year old mother in law with natural justice.

These two statements are not mine.

They are from the Aged Care Commissioner and the Ombudsman who made them after examining all the facts of my Mother in Law's case.

As you know, one purpose of the Aged Care Commissioner and the Ombudsman is to ensure that this Department treats people fairly. They both spoke to the Department about her case and carried out their investigations.

In spite of them both finding that the Department and the CIS had done the wrong thing, your Department continued to back the provider - allowing them to charge a bond that was illegal. This provider sent an intimidatory Solicitor's letter to my wife - "pay up or we'll see you in court".

Mr. Butler, imagine for a moment that this was a close family member of yours, being treated this way by the Department - after we had driven to Sydney and Canberra several times having meetings with the Department and written 50 odd letters - would you be happy that a taxpayer funded Department behaved this way?

We notice that the recent nurse whistleblowers are alleging that "they were told to look the other way when they found evidence of rorting by the Nursing Homes".

I can confirm as 100% fact that when the Commonwealth Nurse visited my Mother in law's nursing home with a duty to check her category (high care or low care) - because we had complained that she legally could not be charged a bond - that nurse did not even see her or speak to her.

Therefore the Department had their view dictated by the home behind closed doors.

The whistleblowers are also saying that "The Industry needs a clean up, it stinks. The Department needs to get its act together because it stinks too".

These whistleblowers are hitting nails squarely on the head. I can confirm that this provider treated my mother in law like a "cash cow" as they have stated.

At the end of our negotiations your Department even refused to accept the written word of a registered medical practitioner that my mother in law was actually "high care" at the time of entry.

Our family has had enough of this Department with their games of duckshoving you here and sending you off there, so I would request that you do three things please:

1) Organise the return to her estate of the $17,000 interest on my mother in law's bond that was illegally charged by the home.

2) Issue a written apology to our family for the needless heartache, unfair pressure on a 92 year old Lady, wasted trips to Sydney and Canberra and all the carry on we have been through.

3) Never ever again let this Department treat other elderly Australians as badly as they treated my dear mother in law.

My mother in law's name was (name removed to protect identity), she paid taxes for about 60 years, she was a well respected Australian and was treated like dirt by your Department.

Her records at the Department will confirm the facts listed above and will include the findings from the commissioner and ombudsman that she was denied natural justice and that the provider breached the act in charging her a bond.

Our family awaits your urgent reply.

The second letter was addressed and sent to the Aged Care Commissioner:

18 August 2012


Good afternoon Commissioner,

No doubt you would be well aware of recent media reports about providers rorting the aged care system and the Department of Health and Ageing knowingly letting them do it.

Your office did an investigation into the treatment of my Mother in (name removed to protect identity) by the CIS (Part of the Department of Health and Ageing).

Your office found that the provider had breached the act and that the individual from the CIS had acted in excess of his powers.

Your office provided a recommendation to the Department that they should overturn their decision.

They ignored your recommendation and stuck by their original decision which allowed the Provider to illegally charge a bond.

After months of getting run around by the Department we approached the Ombudsman who found - in addition - that my mother in law had not been provided natural justice by the Department.

Later again we provided written evidence to the Department from a Doctor that my mother in law was "high care" at the time of entry. They ignored this evidence together with another statutory declaration and letter we provided.

I hereby request that the office of the Aged Care Commissioner do the following two items please:

1) Give our family a written explanation of why the Aged Care Commissioner's Office recommendation was able to be overturned by the Department?

2) Re-open my mother in law (name removed to protect identity) case on an urgent basis in order to take account of the Doctor's letter, Ombudsman's finding that she was not given natural justice and the new information now in the public domain from the Commonwealth Nurse "whistleblowers".


Our family awaits your urgent reply

The third letter was addressed and sent to the Department of Health and Ageing:

18 August 2012


Hello Ladies,

I'm not sure who is doing which job at the Department but would politely request that this email be brought to the attention of whoever is responsible for the whole Department now please.

No doubt you will recall the case where my mother in law (name removed to protect identity) was illegally charged a bond by an approved provider. You will possibly also recall that we went to great efforts to visit (name removed to protect identity) and others in Sydney at the Department as well as a couple of people at Canberra to try and obtain some fairness.

The Aged Care Commissioner found that the CIS made a mistake with their assessment of (name removed to protect identity) and that the provider had breached the act by charging her a bond.

The Ombudsman advised you that the Department had not afforded (name removed to protect identity) natural justice.

Your Department was provided a letter from a registered medical practitioner saying that (name removed to protect identity) was "high care" at the time of entry. Your Department chose to ignore that letter - favouring the side of the provider instead - and a gentleman "(name removed to protect identity)?" from the Department gave me a long "legalspeak" dissertation on why the Doctor's letter was not admissable evidence.

The Doctor specialises in aged care and his letter said in plain English that "she was high care at the time of entry"! Not a single person from the Department even bothered to contact the Doctor!

In spite of all the evidence provided - from the Aged Care Commissioner, The Ombudsman, the Doctor, the ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) and others, your Department chose to continue to favour the provider and work directly against (name removed to protect identity) .

The recent "whistleblower" media coverage has many parallels with (name removed to protect identity) case.

The item which makes her specific case even worse is that the rorting was carried out directly against a 92 year old lady. This provider deliberately slanted evidence to make (name removed to protect identity) "low care" the minute they found out that her assets could cover a bond.

Before they found out the value of her assets they agreed with ACAT that she was "high care". They also told us "it is only a matter of a few pills one way or the other for us to make her high or low".

Your Department then went to massive lengths fighting us to try and prove that the provider's decision was right.

The "whistleblowers" are alleging that Commonwealth Nurses are told to turn a blind eye to the rorting of providers. I concur.

You will recall that we told the Department many times that the Commonwealth Health Nurse sent to assess (name removed to protect identity) - after we complained that the home were manufacturing a situation to get a bond out of her - never even saw her or spoke to her!

How could a nurse assess her based only on information from the provider - who also happened to have a financial vested interest in the result?

Our family has three requests of the Department please:

1) Organise the return of the $17,000 to (name removed to protect identity) estate which was illegally taken from her.

2) Provide a written apology to our family for the shabby behaviour of the Department.

3) Never ever treat an elderly Australian or their family this badly again.

If you decide that the Department needs to discuss anything with us it would be great for someone to travel here to our place in (location removed to protect identity) and meet us face to face. We have done more than our fair share of travelling.

I await your urgent reply,
Thanks and best regards.