May 14, 2024

2024 Budget: Cost of living relief and a $2.2 billion investment for aged care

budget HC

The 2024 Budget is here and there are winners and losers across the board, so what does that mean for those working in the aged care industry?

The sector itself has received a $2.2 billion investment to help with major aged care reforms like the new Aged Care Act and Support at Home. But individuals will also benefit from several cost of living supports for everyday Australians plus some targeted investments for aged care workers and students. 

What it means for individuals

There are plenty of big wins for individuals inside and outside the aged care industry. Here’s a quick snapshot of the key budget wins.

Stage 3 tax cuts mean anyone earning more than $18,200 will receive a tax cut when they submit their 2023-24 tax return. ABC outlined what you can expect to receive based on your taxable income. 

Other cost of living measures announced include a $300 rebate on every household’s power bills, while the Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment rises. 

Aged care workers who are studying or have a student loan will see their student loan decrease after the Government revised last year’s hefty 7.1% indexation rise to only 3.2%. Nursing students will also receive a Commonwealth Prac Payment of up to $319.50 per week when they undertake unpaid placements.

Superannuation is going to be paid on the Government-funded paid parental leave scheme, providing a long-term boost for a cohort largely made up of women. 

Mental health is under the spotlight with a free, low‑intensity digital service to be established to address the gap for people with mild mental health concerns. This will not require a referral. A network of walk-in Medicare Mental Health Centres will also be developed. 

Aged care reform

The bulk of the aged care sector’s funding  – a whopping $1.2 billion over five years – is set aside for critical digital systems to support the introduction of the new Aged Care Act and contemporary IT systems. This comes as the Government announced it will defer the commencement date of the new Aged Care Act to July 1, 2025.

Additionally, funding will go towards several regulatory initiatives, plus key services such as My Aged Care and the Specialist Dementia Care Program. 

Home care

Ahead of the switch to Support At Home, the Government is investing $531.4 million to release an additional 24,100 Home Care Packages in 2024/25. It hopes to help reduce average wait times for those seeking home care services. 

Aged care workforce

Having already invested $11.3 billion into the interim 15% aged care pay rise, the Government has confirmed it will fully fund the complete aged care wage increase. The average wage increase for eligible workers will be 23% once phased in.  

Meanwhile:

  • $87.2 million will go towards workforce initiatives to attract nurses and other workers into aged care 
  • $90 million is set aside for the entire healthcare system to make it “simpler and quicker” for international health practitioners to work in Australia. 
  • $21.6 million will extend the Home Care Workforce Support Program for an additional three years to facilitate the growth of the care and support workforce in thin markets

What it means for healthcare & disability

Healthcare as a whole continues to receive major funding with an extra $8.5 billion, including $227 million to establish 29 urgent care clinics across Australia. 

Medicare will receive $2.8 billion from that pool of funding, with the Government focused on helping older Australians avoid hospital admission or receive better support when transitioning out of hospital into settings such as aged care. 

Dementia research receives its share of $141.1 million as the Government looks to improve health outcomes for a range of chronic conditions including diabetes, bowel cancer and skin cancer. 

A further $468.7 million is being provided to support people with disability and get the NDIS back on track. This includes focusing on fighting fraud and introducing reforms that will help NDIS participants and people with disability better navigate their services. 

Do you have any questions or comments about the 2024 Budget? Share them in the comments section below. 

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