One thing that I've learned after being in and out of this place since 1990 is to never forget who brought you to the party, never forget who you represent.
People like myself who represent the regions represent small communities with not-for-profit aged-care centres like Foster, Neerim South, Phillip Island, Leongatha and Korumburra. They're names you might never have heard of, but they're important because they're facilities that are really, really important to the economic value of those communities, not just the aged care that they provide.
COVID has really knocked them about. This is right across Australia. They have unique downsides in that they don't have facilities to grab another nurse around the corner. They just don't have that facility in a country area.
We need to look very closely at these areas, like Foster and Neerim South, and say, 'What are we going to do in the future for you?' Otherwise, they will be unviable. If they become unviable, the whole community loses.
Aged care has been a passion of mine from the time I came into this place; it will be a passion of mine until the time I leave.
The people who work within the facilities and those who are a part of the community are magnificent in the way they go about their job, but we need to be great in the way that we look after them.