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Horton says she was “extremely surprised and delighted”
when the government appointed her to its Aged Care
Sector Committee four years ago, where she has enjoyed the
opportunity of engaging with the various sector representatives.
“I have found aged care to be much more sensitive to
looking at the needs of homeless people than some of the
other systems I’ve been in,” says Horton.
On the committee, Horton says her key focus remains
firmly fixed on those seniors who are most disadvantaged; the
people who she argues will be most vulnerable in the move to
a market-based aged care system.
“I’ve been very clear at the committee and in any policy
debates I participate in that ‘market driven’ will result in less
access to a system for ver y disadvantaged and homeless people.
We can point to examples of that – we’ve seen it in the early
days of the NDIS introduction.
“My emphasis has been that we need to make sure there are
absolute safeguards to provide quality services to disadvantaged
people which is, in my view, a human right,” she says.
The challenge too is ensuring aged care providers are
supported in meeting the needs of disadvantaged and homeless
seniors, she says.
“We’re dealing with people who’ve had very different
life histories and mostly do not have families so aged care
providers are taking on a lot of things family would do –
taking someone to a medical appointment or purchasing
toiletries, or providing that love and care of a family member.
“The homeless person is relying on the aged care provider
for all those things, which is almost like a family relationship,
and that’s a ver y different ask of people.”
In her experience, most opposition to homeless people in
residential aged care doesn’t come from other residents, but
rather from residents’ family members, she says.
“It’s generally the families – a daughter doesn’t want mum to
be next door to someone who has been homeless for a long time.”
Organisation responding to change
In her day job with the Salvation Army, Norton is busy
overseeing ser vice deliver y across a wide range of fast changing
policy areas including aged care, disability, homelessness,
housing, family violence and drug and alcohol.
“I love this job because my day can go from meeting with
ministers to participating in a broad policy debate like at the
Aged Care Sector Committee to reviewing a program or going
out talking to workers in the field,” she says.
Like many organisations, the Salvation Army is undergoing
major internal changes as it restructures in response to
unfolding reforms across the community services sector.
The Salvation Army Southern Territor y is preparing to
merge with the Salvation Army Eastern Territory, which
includes Aged Care Plus, from Januar y 2019.
“One of the beauties for me working for the Salvation Army is
that I get to work with disadvantaged people across such a wide
range of really essential community ser vices,” says Horton. n
Fact file: Netty Horton
n Responsible for more than 600 programs as social program director
for Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory.
n Was CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons for more than
12 years, during which time she established the first national
conferences on homelessness in Australia.
n Helped establish the Australian Federation of Homelessness
Organisations and Foodbank Australia.
n In 2001 completed a Churchill Fellowship examining foodbanking
and homelessness in the US, Canada, Europe and the UK.
n On the board of directors at Wintringham and McAuley
Community Services for Women.
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