Aug 18, 2022

70% of Australians want a boost to aged care funding in the next Government budget

70% of Australians want a boost to aged care funding in the next Government budget

A recent poll by Essential Research, an independent market research company, has revealed that 70% of Australians want to see increased funding for the aged care sector in the Labor Government’s October Federal Budget.

The residential aged care sector has struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is still facing the ongoing workforce shortage crisis and many facilities are operating at a financial loss.

When survey participants were asked about six key areas – including improving the quality of aged care, reducing the national deficit and transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy – aged care was identified as the top priority.

Only 7% of those surveyed said additional funding for improving the quality of aged care was ‘not very important’ or ‘not at all important.’

The need for increased funding is high across the industry, according to Tim Hicks, General Manager Policy and Advocacy for the Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA).

“Aged care funding is completely inadequate; it’s failing to keep pace with inflation and the cost of COVID outbreaks, and it’s failing to deliver on our modern expectations of support and care,” said Mr Hicks.

“This new poll shows fixing the funding crisis is not just a priority for aged care residents, staff and people who interact with the system, it’s important for all Australians.

While it was no surprise the largest group in favour of increased funding was people aged 55+, with 83% stating it was ‘most important,’ it was also the most common answer for younger generations.

65% of the 35 – 54 demographic voted ‘most important,’ while it was 61% for the 18 – 34 demographic. 

Although the Federal Government has yet to comment on aged care funding for the October Federal Budget, they have placed a submission to the Fair Work Commission for a meaningful wage increase for aged care workers.

Speaking at a press conference with the Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles last week, the Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, was in full support of increased wages.

“We have stories of people who spend decades looking after our older Australians, but their work is so insecure that they have to live in a caravan,” explained Minister Wells.

“And that is not a standard of worker conditions that this Government is prepared to accept, because it does not give us a standard of care that Australians want for older Australians in both residential facilities and in home care.”

Minister Wells added that the complexity of aged care work has significantly increased not just from COVID but also through the standard of care that the Government is asking for.

It is unknown if this wage increase will be a part of the Labor Party’s October Federal Budget, as the Fair Work Commission case is expected to be handed down later in the year 

Mr Hicks said a wage increase is necessary to continue improving the quality of care in the sector for older Australians.

“It is clear that aged care workers need a significant pay rise now, but without additional support aged care providers cannot attract more workers and realise improvements in the quality of care,” he explained.

“The Government should seize the opportunity in the upcoming Federal Budget to address the workforce shortage crisis and provide financial support for the long-term sustainability of quality aged care facilities and at-home care programs.”

HelloCare contacted Minister Wells for comment but did not receive a response by publication.

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