The first Federal Budget from the Albanese Government will be released tonight and aged care peak bodies are banking on the delivery of Election promises for the sector to come through.
Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) and Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) have agreed that increasing residential care staffing minutes and the implementation of 24/7 nursing coverage were the top concerns they hope the Labor Budget addresses.
ACCPA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tom Symondson, and OPAN CEO, Craig Gear, said the sector anticipates the Budget will contain necessary aged care funding that was promised in the Government’s Election commitments.
“The aged care measures we expect will be included in this Budget are a big step along the road to fixing Australia’s aged care system and realising the vision set out by the [aged care] Royal Commission,” Mr Symonds said.
“There’s no denying the pressures facing the aged care sector, including workforce shortages, the ongoing spectre of COVID-19, and the legacy of decades of underfunding.”
Mr Gear added that, “It’s not just about money” in this Budget, but the precedent it sets for the whole sector and its workforce.
“It is about short, medium and longer-term workforce strategies that will help provide a highly-skilled, valued workforce that’s able to deliver, and has time to deliver, relational-based care that is framed around human rights and dignity,” said Mr Gear.
Figures released this month by accounting firm StewartBrown revealed that the residential aged care sector is still experiencing financial sustainability problems, with two out of three nursing homes (67%) running at a loss.
“We know the Support at Home program is coming, but that’s still a while away.
“We need older people to be able to exercise their right to independence, the right to stay in their own home, and get care that is based on their level of need.”
Outside of the Budget, peak bodies wait to see how the Government delivers on its commitment to fund the outcomes of the Fair Work Commission work value case later this year and the inaugural recommendations of the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority in the coming months.
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers said this morning that the Budget has three big objectives: to deliver cost of living relief, strengthen the economy, and begin Budget repair from the former Government.
“… I think what happened when Government changed hands five months ago is it wasn’t just a change of Government but there was a change of mindset.
“There is a sense that the big challenges in our economy and our Budget, that we need to begin to deal with them, that we have had this wasted decade, and that has given us skills shortages and stagnant wages and an aged care crisis and energy policy chaos – and not enough to show for a trillion dollars in debt.”
He said that he believed Australians are up for a “genuine conversation” about how issues are addressed through the Budget and in the economy.
What do you think will be covered in the Labor Federal Budget for aged care? Tell us in the comments below.