Apr 19, 2023

Budget propositions for aged care spark debate among sector stakeholders

ANIKA WELLS
Anika Wells. [Source: Twitter]

The Federal Government has earmarked $4.8 billion worth of funding to maintain funding commitments to the aged care sector but the discussion has evolved to debate over whether it will be enough to keep residential facilities open.

As our population ages and the sector struggles to attract and maintain staff, aged care is expected to drive up costs by 23% and become the fifth-largest area of Government spending.

This follows Wesley Mission announcing three of its Sydney aged care facilities will close at the end of May and Perth’s Brightwater will also close three of its facilities in the next year as they struggle to meet the mandated 24/7 Registered Nurse requirement taking effect on July 1. 

Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and Aged Care Minister, Anika Wells, have accused the former Coalition Government of “egregiously underfunding” the sector in its final budget, leaving a multibillion-dollar black hole.

“Properly funding our aged care sector comes at a price – with costs to increase in the budget by 23 per cent in the 2022-2023 financial year,” Ms Wells told News.com.au.

“Aged care has been plagued by a decade of inadequate funding which, in addition to the impact of the pandemic, has led to compounded cost pressures.”

Last year, a report by financial analysts, StewartBrown, found almost two-thirds of aged care providers were operating at a loss in the second half of last year and suggested wealthier older Australians pay more for their care to help bolster the sector’s resources. This was backed by providers, including peak body Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA).

But the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Union (ANMF) disagree with the industry report and believes the financial pressures may be overstated.

“We think those figures are not sufficiently transparent enough for us to really assess whether the sector is financially sustainable or not,” Annie Butler, ANMF National Secretary, told The Guardian.

“The [StewartBrown] report does not cover all providers and the ANMF’s previous investigations, over the last four to five years, have demonstrated to us there’s a lot of tax avoidance and a lot of structures that obscure what real situation is.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, defended the aged care reforms he and his Government have implemented, saying that close to 90% of residential facilities would meet the 24/7 nursing requirements.

The Federal Budget will be handed down in Parliament by Mr Chalmers on May 9.

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  1. Ummm it should be pointed out to Ms Butler that the Governments own figures (courtesy of the QFR) show a $27.90 pbd loss and an aggregate loss of $465m for one quarter. Also note that ‘For Profit’ providers who have access to tax options only comprise less than 40% of the market these days given take overs by NFPs of providers such as Allity.

  2. It’s fairly typical of Labor, they were vehemently conscious of the underfunding instigated by Scott Morrison as treasurer and continued right through his leadership but now they would like us to believe that the crisis has snuck up on them. There are many homes struggling to keep the doors open, residents wants have increased and due to the continuous negative publicity families are struggling to manage at home with a seriously flawed and carelessly funded and managed Home care policy.

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