Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2011 Contents "Arguments need to be well researched
and evidence-based," McClure says. "The
narrative has to be clear, as should be
the need and case for change. This is
where the PC report is good as it sets out
recommendations for action in both the
short and long-term."
And unlike the lobbying days of the
past, he says, the relationship between
the government and the sector must be
amicable. "You don't want a relationship
based on aggression but an adult
relationship where you can put your
"There can be differences that can
be discussed with robust debate and
discussion. You are both heading in
essentially in the same direction. The
challenge of lobbying and social policy is
getting the balance between maintaining
your values and direction on one hand
and understanding the fiscal constraint
of government and working with them
through that, on the other. It's quite
difficult at times, building that trust so
both parties are involved in the design as
well as the implementation. It's a marathon
run, not a sprint."
WHO YOU KNOW
According to Morgan, in politics the old
saying, 'It's not what you know but who
you know' holds true. "You can have the
best case for reform in the world but
unless you go through the right channels
and people, you probably won't get a
look in," she says. "So don't forget about
convincing the public servants who
construct policies and recommendations
for the minister.
"If you go straight to a minister and
the public service has not heard about
you or your campaign, then it could annoy them. If they don't
like your campaign, they may brief against you and you will be
constantly battling to overturn their advice.
"I would start with advisors in the lead agency - in aged
care's case it is the Department of Health and Ageing - and then
move on. If you can convince them of your idea then they can
convince everyone else. That's a department's job and you will
be working as a team to bring everyone in government along
and to optimise success."
Morgan also advises key players in the sector to approach the
funding decision-makers --Treasury -- and to keep the opposition
and independents on side, but not so much that you compromise
the relationship you have with the government.
Cabinet ministers are also essential, Yates says, even if they
don't have an interest in health or aged care. In the end, every
member of cabinet will have to vote for aged care funding so it is
crucial to win them over.
"If you are a Minister for Science and Innovation, you may
have some initiatives that you want funded in the upcoming
budget," he says. "Are you going to argue against aged care or
say, 'Yes, let's fund aged care in 2012' and argue against funding
for other priorities? We have to convince other members of
the government that funding aged care in 2012 is a whole of
KEEPING THE FAITH
The participation of aged and community care staff, consumers
and the general community is also vital to a successful campaign.
Assistant federal secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation,
Lee Thomas, encourages staff to get and stay involved in the
lobbying process until the end result is finally achieved.
"Everyone in aged care has an association or a peak body
involved in this campaign," she says. Individual providers in aged
care are getting in touch with their associations to ensure that
they are part of the massive movement for change," she says. "If
you want to be part of the movement, you've got to get involved."
Most importantly, Thomas says, aged care staff should be
dogged about the cause. "Don't lose the faith; keep ploughing
on through... Get out there and be visible, and get the
"We had residents in aged care who actually gave evidence at a
PC hearing. One older person said, 'Please don't wait until I'm dead
to reform aged care.' When you have that groundswell of support
and recognition of serious need, you have to be dogged about it.
"There's not going to be a loss here. You've got to be positive.
You've got to know that we are going to hold the PM to the
commitment she gave us all...This is about frail older Australians.
Put them at the centre of reform and we can't go wrong." n
"You don't want a
relationship based on
aggression but an adult
relationship where you can
put your case forward."
-- Patrick McClure
"You've got to know that we are going
to hold the PM to the commitment she
gave us all..." -- Lee Thomas
Patrick McClure AO
66 | JULY -- AUGUST 2011 | AAA
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