When the royal commission into aged care handed down their findings in March, it was clear that an increase in public funding into the sector was necessary.
Following this, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that a big part of the government’s response to the royal commission would be within the upcoming budget, which is being delivered on May 11.
In April, The Sun-Herald reported that over four years, the government will promise at least $10 billion in funding as part of the upcoming May budget.
They also reported that one of the key findings from the commission’s final report would be implemented. As part of the budget, the ability for people who wish to stay at home and receive care instead of moving into a residential facility would be focused on.
At the time, industry experts warned that $10 billion may only be a quarter of enough required to meet the royal commission’s recommendations.
Speaking to The New Daily, Grattan Institute Health Program Director Stephen Duckett said that the new budget represents a “tremendous opportunity”.
The Grattan Institute estimates that at least $7 billion per year would be required to bring the sector up to quality standards, and a new Age Care Act would be required to ensure aged care can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals.
The royal commission estimated that over the past 20 years, Australian governments have slashed the annual aged care budget by $9.8 billion.
Now, new reports this week state that the federal government is expected to inject $18 billion over four years, to make the improvements that are necessary to the sector.
He went on to say that he understands the importance of improving “quality control and delivery issues in residential aged care” and that the government had already “made it clear that a substantive response to the royal commission” would be presented as part of the upcoming budget.
While an $18 billion increase is “serious money”, according to Council on the Ageing Chief Executive Ian Yates, extra cash is not the be all and end all.
“You could have a lot more money than $18 billion and waste it if you pour it into the current system,” he told The Financial Review.
Last month, O’Neil tweeted that the $10 billion funding increase that was leaked at the time marked a “very sad day for older Australians” saying that the amount was not enough to fix the sector.
“$10b over four years for Aged Care might sound like a lot, but it’s not. The existing budget is $100b – and that’s a system that has led to the neglect of older Australians and workers. If this is the heart of the RC response, it’s a very sad day for older Australians.”
Whether the increased amount of $18 billion over four years will be deemed as enough, or something more akin to a band-aid solution in the short term, remains to be seen.
What do you think about the federal government’s proposed budget of $18 billion over 4 years, in response to the aged care royal commission? Tell us in the comments.