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Government announces two new initiatives focusing on older Australians and aged care

Two new initiatives have been announced by the Federal Government around offering more choices for longer life, and the commencement of consultation to ensure new residential aged care places are located where they are needed most.

Supporting older Australians to continue to work is one part of the Government's most recent announcements (Source: Shutterstock)
Supporting older Australians to continue to work is one part of the Government's most recent announcements (Source: Shutterstock)

Both initiatives were made public on 15 May, by Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt, with the announcement of the More Choices for a Longer Life package supported by Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash.

Minister Wyatt says the announcement of the consultations on the location of the new aged care places, as announced in the 2018-19 Budget, will help guide the distribution and targeting of new places and capital grants in each state and territory.

“We are keen to hear about the gaps in current aged care availability, not just in terms of locations, but in terms of special needs and the requirements of particular groups, such as people from regional, rural and remote areas and people living with dementia,” Minister Wyatt says.

As for the announcement of the More Choices for a Longer Life package, he says it is the Australian Government making “strong investment” in Australia’s future by helping people remain independent, healthy and connected through their later years.

“We can’t afford to let mature age Australians disappear from the labour market,” Minister Wyatt says.

“They have much to offer employers, through their dedication, experience and the knowledge they can pass on to younger colleagues.

“Opportunities for older Australians to participate in the workforce are becoming increasingly important, as well live longer and healthier lives.”

The announcement includes a range of jobs and skills measures which aim to give older Australians the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of work for as long as they choose.

The measures include:

  • Skills and training incentive to encourage lifelong learning and help workers aged 45-70 years to gain new skills
  • Bringing forward the national rollout of the Career Transition Assistance Program and lowering eligibility to 45 to 49 year olds to help older Australians increase their job readiness and, if required develop digital literacy
  • Job change initiatives to help retrenched older Australians find new jobs
  • Expanding the Entrepreneurship Facilitators program to 20 additional locations to encourage entrepreneurship and new business establishment among older Australians
  • A Collaborative Partnership on Mature Age Employment to promote among employers the benefits of hiring mature age workers
  • Ensuring the Restart wage subsidy continues to be available to hire older Australians

Minister Wyatt says the jobs and skills measures “complement” the employment, health and finance checks for 45 and 65 year olds that will be rolled out as part of the More Choices for a Longer Life package.

“This is about increasing options for all Australians as they age,” he says.

“Having the choice and support to remain connected to work helps pave the way for a more sustainable financial future and a fulfilling retirement.”

Minister Cash adds to Minister Wyatt’s positivity around the jobs and skills measures, saying that while our strong economy created jobs at record levels in 2017, we “must ensure” all Australians have the opportunity to participate.

“We recognise the contribution older Australians make to our community, the economic benefits of their experience and, in many cases, their desire to continue working,” Minister Cash says.

“As we get older we may need to update our skills or change careers, the Government’s More Choices for a Longer Life package will help older Australians to remain in the workforce, have flexibility in their later working years and retire with security.”

More information on the More Choices for a Longer Life package are available online, with the targeted consultations already in progress and set to conclude on Monday 28 May, 2018.

Stakeholders, including national peak aged care organisations, Aged Care Assessment Teams, Primary Health Networks, local councils, consumer groups and aged care approved providers, will be sent an email with a link to the consultation hub, where they can fill in a survey form about unmet demand for aged care within a local area, with organisations not initially invited to take part also able to access the survey by contacting the Department of Health at acar@health.gov.au.

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