Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted bringing defence force personnel into aged care facilities as an additional workforce would not be a silver bullet to fix issues in the sector.
While Morrison said he was in discussions with how the defence force could assist the COVID-19 response, it would not be a shadow workforce.
“There are plenty putting up simple solutions to complex problems, (but) when you are the government, you have to deal with practical options that help,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
“The extent that they work in the health sector, simply taking reserves out of where they are working, putting a uniform on them and getting them somewhere else, doesn’t do anything.”
The commentary comes after defence minister Peter Dutton floated the idea of bringing in the personnel to help alleviate strains in the aged care sector.
Large numbers of aged care facilities have had virus outbreaks, with (as of Friday) more than 560 deaths since the start of the Omicron wave.
Dutton said the use of the defence force was one option to help deal with staffing issues in the sector.
“If that is what is required to fix this problem and to provide dignity to these people, that is what we will do,” he said.
The Government has announced a new task force will look into aged care deaths.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said there was an enormous amount of distress and anger from Australians over how their loved ones in residential facilities are being treated.
“We’ve got a situation now where one in four shifts aren’t being filled by those working in aged care because they’re not in a position to do that. I just find that so distressing,” he told the Nine Network.
“Does that mean people are left in their rooms? Does that mean people are not being bathed?”
Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck has denied the sector is in crisis, and insists it’s performing well considering the circumstances.