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The Commissioner questions the ability of bureaucrats to reform


The NSW Commissioner on Aging and Disability has questioned the ability of civil servants to make the far-reaching changes that the government promises to the elderly care system.

Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald speaks at the ACSA Summit in Canberra on May 4, 2022.

The government has promised to reconsider the way seniors are treated in Australia and to introduce a new Senior Health Care Act in response to conclusions The Royal Commission on Quality and Safety of Nursing Care, which identified systemic deficiencies in the current system.

Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald, who has spent the past 20 years in the civil service, including as a commissioner in the Performance Commission, said Wednesday at a conference on caring for the elderly: “I am a big supporter of civil servants … and I like statutory institutions.” .

However, he said that in Australia there is a decline in the ability of governments to carry out and carry out significant reforms with a tendency to consistently repeat the same mistakes.

“Australia is capable of tremendous change and reform,” he said during a keynote address at the ACSA 2022 National Summit in Canberra.

“We could talk about preschool development reforms, we could talk about reforms in a number of other areas.

“But what has become a model of shortcomings in the development and systemic failures in the implementation of most of these reform strategies, we can not afford to do so in the field of care for the elderly.

“The number of dollars, the number of victims, the number of affected workers, the number of affected services – it’s too much.”

Commercial is a sure obstacle to reform

Commissioner Fitzgerald said the reduction in the capacity and competence of the civil service to implement the reform was well recognized.

“Anyone who is honest will tell you this, but it’s not about getting more consultants,” he said.

He said that the only way forward is to sit down with representatives of the elderly care sector and hold tough talks.

The notion of commercial trust has shattered my public confidence in running a bureaucracy.

Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald

The government must accept transparency for that to happen, he said.

This meant putting on the table all the information she has, and openly sharing it with the sector, with nursing care providers who are expected to do the same.

“The notion of commercial trust has destroyed my public confidence in the management of bureaucracies because they will not disclose information that should be publicly available,” he said.

“I hope that transparency in this space is accepted by the government – whoever it is – and the department and the sector.

“It didn’t happen before, and it has nothing to do with which party is in power. This is a structural issue in the public sector. “

The Fitzgerald Commission said very few Commonwealth bureaucrats have experience in providing services, unlike public bureaucrats who often come from areas such as health, education, public services or justice.

“If you’re dealing with people who haven’t had that kind of experience – they’re great people, good thinkers – but that idea needs to be supplemented by those and actually proven,” he said.

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