The government cut 10,000 home care packages out of the budget at the last minute, reports say.
Sources told The Australian Financial Review that an additional 10,000 home care places were to be included in the budget, but instead only the 10,000 packages previously announced in February were included in the final document.
But the Minister For Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM told HelloCare, “The claim is wrong.”
“There were 10,000 places included in the Budget and were announced in February.”
Since 2017, 40,000 home care places have been created, the Minister said.
“All up, 40,000 places have been added since December 2017, and they have from increased from 60,308 in 2012-13 to 157,154 to 2022-23 through this budget,” Mr Wyatt said.
The Financial Review article said funding for the “missing” home care packages may have gone towards helping “shore up” the government’s forecast $7.1 billion 2019-2020 surplus.
In a statement for the National Aged Care Alliance, COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, said he was “utterly dumbfounded” that neither the government nor the opposition allocated any new funds to addressing the “nightmarish” 125,000 long home care waiting list.
“The Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission described the home care waitlist as ‘cruel, unfair, disrespectful and discriminatory against older Australians’ and we completely agree with this statement,” Mr Yates said.
The NACA, a coalition of 52 aged care organisations from across the country, is calling on the government and the opposition to commit to more government spending on aged care, to address problems within the aged care workforce, and to announce the addition of more home care packages.
Aged and Community Services Australia CEO, Pat Sparrow, said, “What was missing from this year’s budget and budget response was a steadfast commitment from both major parties to getting aged care right for older Australians, their friends and families and aged care workers.”
Mr Yates said, “The government has forecast it will only cost $2.0 billion to $ 2.5 billion a year to ensure older Australians wait no more than 3 months for the assessed level of care they need.”
“The Government and all candidates in the upcoming Federal Election must stand up and commit to ending the home care waiting list nightmare facing more than 125,000 older Australians,” he said.
NACA has launched a petition calling on the Minister for Aged Care and the Shadow Minister for Ageing, The Hon Julie Collins MP, to ‘commit to getting aged care right for everyone’.
The petition says, “We encourage all Australians, no matter your background or age, to sign on to the petition to tell our leaders they need to pick up their act and commit to ensuring equity of access to aged care for all older Australians and to growing the aged care workforce.”