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Aged Care Act delayed — who will be impacted?

In 2022 – ‘23, expenditure on aged care was approximately $1,000 per person per annum and is projected to grow — in real terms — to around $3,500 in 40 years.

<p>A statement from Minister Anika Wells confirmed the new Aged Care Act will not be delivered on July 1, 2024. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

A statement from Minister Anika Wells confirmed the new Aged Care Act will not be delivered on July 1, 2024. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • The new Aged Care Act was set to be delivered by July 1, 2024
  • A collective of 12 organisations detailed the key requirements of a new Aged Care Act in a submission to the Federal Government’s exposure draft
  • More than 1.5 million people receive aged care services in Australia

 

Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells confirmed that the scheduled delivery of Australia’s new Aged Care Act will be ‘updated’ to reflect feedback from the public upon the delivery of the legislation exposure draft.

“We heard strong feedback that the proposed new Aged Care Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for systemic reform that we must get right,” Wells said.

“The government is now considering the extensive and valuable feedback to refine and finalise the draft legislation before it is introduced to parliament.”

Advocacy groups responded to the announcement with concerns that the bill could be delayed for up to a year after internal documents were leaked to the press.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners publication, NewsGP, reported that its Chair of Aged Care Specific Interests Dr Anthony Marinucci was concerned more GPs would leave the sector.

Dementia Australia Chief Executive Officer Maree McCabe AM said older people deserve the robust, enforceable rights they were assured, without further delay.

“If there is a delay in the rollout of the legislation, there needs to be robust and transparent consultation that underpins the parliamentary process and due consideration of how the Act will strengthen the delivery of quality dementia care,” Ms McCabe said.

“People impacted by dementia deserve to feel confident that the new Act will empower them and improve their experience of care and services.

“We welcome the ongoing progress made by the Albanese Government in addressing key recommendations of the Royal Commission and look forward to continuing to work with them to improve the health, care, lifestyle outcomes and experiences for people of all ages, living with all forms of dementia and their families and carers.”

Although advocates expressed their understanding of a minor delay, the prospect of waiting until an election cycle was deemed ‘unacceptable’ by Council on the Ageing Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow.

“Older Australians want to get aged care set up right now and into the future, but it doesn’t mean we need to move at a glacial pace. The idea of pushing back this vital legislation to as late as July 2025 is simply unacceptable,” she said.

“Introducing the bill for parliamentary scrutiny by June 2024 is appropriate. Parliament provides the ideal platform for conducting the next level of public consultation on all aspects of the bill through a senate inquiry, including the examination of consolidated rules and subordinate legislation.”

If the deadline for passage is not met, the Aged Care Act could be pushed back further into 2025, a year that is marked by the upcoming Australian Federal Election — much like the delayed delivery of the Support at Home program, now set for July 1, 2025 and the delayed Commonwealth Home Support Programme transition, now slated for 2027.

The Support at Home program experienced several delays since it was first proposed — originally, it was due to launch in July 2023 before being postponed to July 2024 by the current Federal Government due to providers’ concerns.

Minister Wells stated that the Albanese Government had “[…] already implemented its five aged care election commitments, including 24/7 nursing, a record $11.3b pay rise for aged care workers and increased transparency through Dollars to Care.”

The Aged Care Act exposure draft was scrutinised upon its initial release, with limited information on fees and the complaints framework. This information is critical for people receiving aged care services or assisting a person in need of care.

In the Aged Care Act: exposure draft — Consultation paper no. 2, released on December 14, 2023, the report stated that further required changes to means-testing provisions will be considered following the report of the Aged Care Taskforce.

The Final report of the Aged Care Taskforce was published on March 12, 2024, with its recommendations for a financially sound future in the sector.

The Taskforce was established to advise the Australian Government on funding arrangements, such as participant contributions for home care, reforms to arrangements for pricing and funding of hotel and accommodation costs in residential aged care, including the phasing out of Refundable Accommodation Deposits.

The report noted that Australia’s old-age dependency ratio measures the number of people aged 65 and over for every 100 people of traditional working age — 15 to 64. In 2022 – ‘23, this proportion was 26.6 percent and it is expected to increase to 38.2 percent by 2062–63, as per the Intergenerational Report released in 2023.

This means that the taxation burden for funding aged care services would impact a segment of the population that is becoming proportionally smaller: younger, working-age adults.

As gaps in the aged care workforce increase, this could create significant ongoing challenges to delivering quality care, as the government has attempted to mitigate workforce attrition through a wage increase among those working in the sector.

 

How long do you believe the Aged Care Act will be delayed? Let the team at Talking Aged Care know and subscribe to the newsletter for more information, news and industry updates.

 

Related content:

How an ageing population permanently changed the Australian economy

What is money being spent on in Australia’s aged care sector?

Can I continue to manage my money while in aged care?

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