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Useful initiatives and missed opportunities in the 2017/18 Budget

Leading industry organisations welcome some changes in this year’s budget, but highlight there could’ve been room for improvement. 

There were no surprises in this year’s Budget but industry highlight some missed opportunities (Source: Shutterstock)
There were no surprises in this year’s Budget but industry highlight some missed opportunities (Source: Shutterstock)

Key initiatives specific for aged care announced in the 2017/18 Budget include:

  • $5.5billion over the forward estimates to extend funding arrangements for the Commonwealth Home Support Program;
  • $3.1million in 2017/18 to improve the My Aged Care IT platform;
  • $1.9million over two years to establish and support an industry led taskforce to develop an aged care sector workforce strategy; and
  • $8.3million over three years for home-based palliative care, coordinated through the Primary Health Networks

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) welcomes the 2017/18 Federal Budget, after previous Federal Budgets have seen ongoing cuts to aged care funding and associated programs. Mr Sean Rooney, LASA Chief Executive Officer feels the Federal Budget provides near term funding stability for the age services industry affording our industry an opportunity to reflect and participate fully in the many policy and program reviews currently underway, without fear of ongoing funding cuts.

Council of the Ageing (COTA) notes while the 2017 Federal Budget has some good measures for older Australians in the areas of health, housing and mature age employment, it missed the opportunity to provide better support for older people with poor oral or dental health.

“The government has again missed the opportunity to really focus in on the challenge and opportunities of an ageing population, but there are measures that will alleviate some of the pressures on older Australians,” COTA Chief Executive Officer Ian Yates says.

Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) thinks there are no surprises in this year’s Budget, but says there are some useful initiatives. Pat Sparrow, ACSA Chief Executive Officer acknowledges there is much work to be done to successfully merge the CHSP and Home Care Packages programs into one cohesive program able to support people to continue to live at home. 

She also says the $1.9 million for a workforce strategy was of note to ensure we have the care staff required to deliver quality services for the growing number of older Australians.

“This is part of a $33 million broader workforce package to help service providers in aged care and disability to grow their workforce. ACSA has been instrumental, with other provider peaks, in advocating the need for such a strategy,” she highlights.

COTA welcomes the requirement that under new CHSP contracts for this period, providers will have to focus more on increasing older people’s independence and quality of life through restorative and re-enabling support services. However Mr Yates says COTA is opposed to contracts for Regional Assessment Services (RAS) being extended for two years because we urgently need the creation of an integrated aged care assessment service – combining the RASs and State-based Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs).

“An integrated Aged Care Assessment Service is an essential building block in the aged care reform process and its development should proceed without delay,” he says. 

“COTA also urges the government to announce a firm commitment to promptly implementing the Aged Care Reform Roadmap to provide timely and seamless aged care across home and residential care with full consumer control over care packages and beds.

“If this does not happen soon then deferring the merger of CHSP and HCP programs will turn into “more of the same”, which is not good enough and will impede real reform."

The Aged Care Guild welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to
maintain current levels of funding for the aged care sector in the 2017-2018 Commonwealth Budget, but is calling on the Government to implement a long-term strategy that will ensure the needs of an ageing population can be met in future years. 

“With Australia’s aging population, the industry is facing major challenges in meeting the growing demand for services and delivering the 76,000 new beds that are required by 2026,” says Cameron O’Reilly, Aged Care Guild Chief Executive Officer.

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