The Catholic Weekly 23 August 2020

$2 It’s a catastrophe. Our patients, our residents, our families, our loved ones are dying.” Professor Joseph Ibrahim MEDICAL EXPERTS are calling for a national watch- dog to monitor and advise on the welfare of vulnerable Australians in aged care. Professor Joseph Ibrahim, head of the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash Univer- sity, said the National advo- cacy body was desperately needed while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. “We need a human rights and a public advocacy group to be there to advocate for the residents because there is no one advocating for [them],” Professor Ibrahim told the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. “It’s a catastrophe. Our patients, our residents, our families, our loved ones are dying.” Professor Ibrahim’s call last week comes as wider concerns arise on the ‘ab- sence of accountability’ of our elderly in aged facilities. In a recent article in The Australian newspaper it was claimed COVID-19 patients in Victoria in aged care were denied admission to hospi- tal and instead being chem- ically sedated in under- staffed and under-equipped facilities. The reasoning be- hind the sedation, according to the newspaper, is to pre- vent infected residents from spreading the virus.  But such a measure is ar- guably adding unnecessary risk to patients by further comprising lung capacity, according to University of Notre Dame Bioethicist Pro- fessor Margaret Somerville. She said the use of chemical restraint was an unethical practice. “Sedation means that res- piratory function is lower and the problem with COVID is that it attacks the lungs and people die of damage to their lungs and breathing,” said Professor Somerville. She added that there may also be an increased risk of age-discrimination occurring in these situations – a dis- crimination against human dignity. “There is also the risk of age discrimination - which is contrary to the human rights of these people instead of offering life support to give the best chance of surviving COVID,” she said. Data from a survey commissioned by the Royal Commission, which in- terviewed 10,518 Australians from all demographics found that more than 90 per cent of Australians agreed that the elderly not only have value to society but that there is an ob- ligation to look after and care for themwith dignity. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Train wreck for aged Treatment of our elderly during COVID-19 is a disaster in slowmotion, says university expert ¾ ¾ David Ryan LONG REGARDED as an in- creasingly secular nation, Australia has opened the door to faith amid the cloud of COVID-19. Latest research has re- vealed three in 10 Aussies have thought about God more since the pandemic started, one in four have engaged in more prayer and one in four are reading the Bible more. Notre Dame University re- search librarian Anusha Jeba- nasam (pictured) said it has been a time for her to under- stand her Catholic faith, espe- cially her love for the Eucha- rist. “COVID has been such a terrible time for so many with the loss of lives and livelihood but for me it has been an in- credible time of flourishing and growing in my faith.” FULL REPORT P4 ¾ ¾ Debbie Cramsie Tough time sees a new search begin 23, August, 2020 IN JAIL I TURNED TO THE CROSS P6 Protect and empower women facing domestic violence. DONATE TODAY 1800 024 413 | DO I, OR DON’T I? THE BIG KISS P12 PHOTO: GIOVANNI PORTELLI