May 10, 2017

Budget 2017: Impact on Older Australians

With the Federal Budget only just announced last night, it’s got all of Australia talking. So how did aged care sector fare?

It appears that the aged care sector have avoided any cuts with it announced in the Budget that Federal Government are maintaining current levels of funding in the 2017-2018 Commonwealth Budget.

Supporting Seniors to Downsize

The barriers holding older people back from downsizing may have just become easier to overcome, with the Government announcing that they will allow a person over 65 to make a contribution of up to $300 000 to their superannuation from the proceeds of selling their home.

Starting from July 1st, 2018, these contributions will be in addition to those currently permitted under existing rules and caps, and they will be exempt from the existing age test, work test and the $1.6 million balance test for making non-concessional contributions.

This new scheme applies to selling the owner’s principal residence – which they need to have owned for the past ten or more years. Here, both members of a couple will be able to take advantage of this measure for the same home.

Palliative Care

Providing Palliative Care Boost

There were also changes to funding support for palliative care announced in this year’s budget, with The Government set to provide $8.3 million over three years from 2017-18.

The new funding given will support greater choice for end-of-life care for Australians and provide palliative care services for people who would prefer to be cared for in their homes rather than in a hospital or hospice setting.

Funding will be provided through the Primary Health Care Networks.

Home Care Funding

It was also announced that “the Government will provide $5.5 billion over two years from 2018-19 to extend the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Regional Assessment Services (RAS) funding arrangements.”

The CHSP and RAS contribute to essential home support services, such as meals (Meals on Wheels), personal care, nursing, domestic assistance, home maintenance, and community transport, to assist older people to keep living independently in their own home.

The Government will also provide $1.9 million over two years from 1 July 2017 to establish and support an industry-led aged care workforce taskforce.

The taskforce will explore options to improve productivity in the aged care workforce and contribute to the development of an aged care workforce strategy, including for regional and remote areas.

Home Care

Protect Aussie’s Aged Care

This comes as good news for the Aged Care Guild, who have been long campaigning that there be no more cuts to aged care funding with their ‘Protect Aussie Aged Care’ campaign.

“The Aged Care Guild is pleased that the Government has committed to funding certainty for our sector. We have been advocating for funding to remain stable and this is a clear indication that the Government is listening,” said Aged Care Guild’s CEO, Cameron O’Reilly.

The ‘Protect Aussie Aged Care’ campaign highlighted that the aged care sector needs support and secure funding to assure elderly Australians that they can attain care and support when they need it most.

What stable funds means for that general public is that elderly Australians and their families can be assured that resources will be maintained.

In recent years, the sector suffered from a series of funding cuts, culminating with a reduction of $1.2 billion in funding in last year’s Budget.

The Aged Care Guild now calls on the Government to implement a long-term strategy that will ensure the needs of an ageing population can be met in future years.

Australia’s ageing population is growing, the Treasury’s 2015 Intergenerational Report forecast that the number of Australians aged over 65 would more than double over the next 40 years.

And, over the same period, the percentage of the population aged 85 and over will grow from 2% to 5%. Something that the aged care sector needs to be prepared for.

“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.”

“Aged Care Reform has been identified as a top priority for the Government and the Guild now looks forward to continuing to work with the Government on a long term funding strategy and to see the vision outlined in the Aged Care Roadmap realised,” says Mr O’Reilly.

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