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Industry peak body demands 15 point plan to be adopted by Government

Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), representing a number of industry peak bodies, has urged the Federal Government to adopt its 15 point plan that has been formulated to get older Australians the most benefit in the quickest amount of time from an improved aged care system.

 The AACC is recommending the Australian Government put immediate focus on four priority aged care areas in the upcoming budget. [Source: iStock]
The AACC is recommending the Australian Government put immediate focus on four priority aged care areas in the upcoming budget. [Source: iStock]

The plan has been identified in AACC's recently undertaken report, Aged care - the way forward, which recommends the Australian Government put immediate focus on four priority areas - human rights, access and choice; workforce; transparency; and sustainability.

This reform needs to begin now, says the AACC, as by 2057, there will be 8.8 million people over 65, or 22 percent of the population. The over 65 cohort is expected to rise to 12.8 million by 2097.

The AACC has also highlighted 52 of the 148 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's Final Report that should be prioritised to ensure good benefits for older Australians.

AACC representative, Sean Rooney, says the upcoming Federal Budget in May provides a great opportunity for the Government to adequately fund the aged care system as part of the Government's response to the Royal Commission.

"Our report suggests which Royal Commission recommendations should be prioritised to ensure older Australians get the most benefit, in the quickest time," says Mr Rooney.

"We have identified 15 priority areas in four broad groupings that we believe the Australian Government should action immediately to ensure older Australians are given the respect and support the community expects."

The Royal Commission's 2,500 page Final Report was released to the public on 1 March and documents stories of under-resourcing, staffing shortages, and neglect and abuse experienced by people accessing Australian aged care.

AACC representative, Patricia Sparrow, says a complete overhaul of the aged care system is needed, not more smaller changes to the sector by the Government.

"If we are to set up our aged care system to guarantee all older Australians the respect and dignity they deserve we need a total overhaul of the funding model and workforce strategy, not more fiddling at the edges," explains Ms Sparrow.

"The Royal Commission made it clear we need to put older people, their needs and a rights-based system first. To make that possible, big picture reform of the entire system is necessary. As part of this big picture reform we must see the critical aged care workforce grow and be well supported through better pay, conditions and training.

"The inescapable reality is that Australia currently spends less than half of what comparable countries do on aged care (1.2% vs 2.5% of GDP), which means older Australians are denied the care they deserve."

Ms Sparrow adds that the industry is committed to overall transparency in the sector, saying that providers have shown that through their commitment to improved transparency and accountability provisions, like clinical indicators, star rating performance systems, reporting of care staff hours, reporting of service level financial data to the independent price authority and stronger regulations.

Mr Rooney says that while short-term solutions were critical, the Government will still need to provide a clear roadmap for longer term reform.

"Older Australians and our sector need a clear statement from Government on longer term reform intent and an indicative implementation timetable which will provide clarity and certainty for the community, older people, aged care workers and service providers about the future policy settings and program design for Australia’s future aged care system," says Mr Rooney.

"Part of this plan must include how we fund the system, knowing that this cannot be completely solved by Government. This means we need to start a national conversation about how the aged care system can be sustainably funded, and whether that means individuals contribute more to their own care."

To read the full report, head to the Australian Aged Care Collaboration website.

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