Aged Care Minister Anika Wells has announced a new Aged Care Taskforce to help establish the best care model in a new equitable and sustainable Aged Care Act.
In a speech to the National Press Club Australia on Wednesday, Minister Wells presented the taskforce as a part of the Government’s plan to address the unanswered questions raised by the Commission’s Final Report and to replace the outdated legislation of the current Act.
The taskforce will comprise different industry experts, economists and union representation to deliberate and decide the best way for an “ambitious” aged care system for all involved, in line with recommendations from the Commission and Government plans outlined in the last month’s Budget.
In just a decade, there will be more people over 65 in Australia than under 18, and Minister Wells wants to see the new Act revolve around older people and the quality of care they receive instead of focusing on how providers are funded.
She touched on the $2.5 billion financial cut to the sector in 2017, chronic workforce shortages, and operating costs which saw providers lose more than $8 a day per bed in 2020.
“We must act now. The Baby Boomers are coming,” she said.
“We have already heard the next generation of people entering aged care are going to want a different model and standard of care than those before them.
Chaired by Minister Wells, the taskforce will deliberate monthly and deliver a draft recommendation report by October of this year, with the final being handed to the Government in December.
Revealing taskforce members, expertise in economics, finance, public policy, ageing and aged care, First Nations, consumer advocacy and provider advocacy have been included as well as a strong union presence to represent industry workers.
Members include Council on the Ageing’s Patricia Sparrow, former National Seniors Chief Executive Officer John McCallum, Think Forward’s lead economist Thomas Walker and Australian Aged & Community Care Providers Association’s Tom Symondson.
Encouraged by the awarded 15% pay rise for 250,000 nurses and aged care workers from July 1, the sector still needs to attract and keep more workers, particularly in home care settings.
More Australians are choosing to age and receive aged care services at home for as long as possible, increasing the need for strengthened care at home with sufficient workers.
“We are not taking a patch-and-paint approach to this process,” Minister Wells said.
“We need co-design, support at home, and policy settings that allow innovative models to be viable investments.”