Leading Age Services Australia, the voice of aged care, says the Government’s decision to focus on tax cuts and a bigger surplus means it has missed the opportunity to meet the needs of the 120,000 older Australians on the home care wait list and provide sustainable residential care funding that covers the rising costs of delivering quality care.
The major aged care funding measures announced in the Budget tonight were those which had already been announced in February. While this funding and earlier announcements in MYEFO are welcome, industry has made clear that it will not address the urgent challenges facing the sector.
Other measures announced tonight focussed largely on investment in new regulatory measures along with an extension of the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and supporting the implementation of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy.
LASA Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney said while these announcements are welcome, the Budget overall shows the Government does not have a strategy to make aged care better right now.
“We acknowledge the investment in aged care announced tonight but with a $7.1 billion surplus, many aged care providers and the older Australians they serve will be rightly disappointed.
“We support measures to improve compliance and increase quality in the sector but the Government needs to work collaboratively with industry and focus on improving practices and providing adequate resources.
“While the Government has extended Commonwealth Home Support Programme contracts by another two years, it is disappointing that they did not outline a plan to significantly reduce waiting lists for home care packages.
“LASA has called for legislated maximum wait times for home care of no more than three months and it is disappointing that this Budget seems unlikely to change the more than 12 months that older Australians are currently waiting for home care.”
Mr Rooney said the next Government of Australia must commit to rapid and fundamental funding reform if we are to meet the changing needs and expectations of the growing numbers of older Australians.
“While the initiatives announced tonight and in recent months will go some way to meeting the needs of older Australians and alleviating some issues facing the sector, more still needs to be done to appropriately resource affordable, sustainable, quality aged care and services.
“We have detailed what we think the funding priorities should be, along with a range of measures to free up funding for age services without any cost to the Budget, alongside vital research required to drive future reform in the sector.
“With an election expected to be called at any time, it’s now up to Australia’s next Government to deliver for older Australians, their families and carers.
“Ahead of the federal election campaign, we call on all political parties and candidates to recognise that making our aged care system better is a national priority.
“LASA’s “I Care for Aged Care” campaign is about ensuring that older Australians can access the care they need, when they need it, and that this care is adequately funded to reflect the actual costs of delivering high quality care and services, and that our sector is supported to attract and train a high performing and compassionate workforce.
“Older Australians need a better aged care system, and older Australians deserve nothing less,” Mr Rooney added.
About Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)
LASA is the national peak body representing and supporting providers of age services across residential care, home care and retirement living. Our purpose is to enable a high performing, respected, and sustainable age services industry delivering accessible, affordable, quality care and services for older Australians.
We represent providers of age services of all types and sizes located across Australia’s metropolitan, regional and rural areas. Consistent with the overall industry profile, 57% of our Members are not-for-profit providers, 33% are for-profit providers and 10% are government providers.
Our diverse and representative membership gives LASA the ability to speak with credibility and authority on issues of importance to older Australians and the age services industry.
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