Benetas responses to Federal Budget
10 May 2012
Author: Sandra Hills

Benetas responses to Federal Budget

Disadvantaged need most support

Leading Victorian aged care provider, Benetas, welcomes the announcement of the Federal Budget released last night saying that the budget paid respect to older Australians, especially those on low incomes and those who are disadvantaged.

Benetas CEO, Sandra Hills, said that it was gratifying to see that the government was doing more to tackle the cost of living, dental health, assisting people with disabilities and our ageing population.

“Our ageing population will also benefit directly from the significant investment of $3.7billion towards aged care reform,” Ms Hills said. “The focus on improving aged care in Australia demonstrates respect for older people and their carers, but there are still many unanswered questions about the proposed changes to the aged care funding structures around adequate investment in the sector. For example, how will increasing resident and community care client co-payments or being able to charge bond or periodic payment for each residential care bed work under the new plan.

“We knew that the payment system needed to change for Australians. It simply wasn’t viable, so we are fully supportive of allowing those who are able to afford to pay. The Government has acknowledged the very real need to provide safeguards for people who are disadvantaged, so anyone requiring care and support receives it, regardless of their circumstances. This will be hard work, but it is vital to support our most vulnerable community members,” Ms Hills said.

The budget has recognised that the Government needs a response to the negative perceptions of ageing and aged care. Ms Hills welcomes the funding for countering negative stereotypes and promoting positive media portrayal of older Australians, plus promoting older people’s value in the workforce.

“Currently the perception of ageing and aged care in the community is very negative, with our ageing population seen as a liability. We congratulate the Government on the ‘Economic Potential of Senior Australians’ initiative around needing to embrace our ageing community and place more value on what they can offer our society. We have a lot of work to do to change this negative perception and we need to ensure we put words into action,” Ms Hills said.

“The $1.2 billion investment in the aged care workforce is also long overdue and highlights the respect our Government holds for the thousands of committed, dedicated and caring staff who work in the aged care sector with passion and pride every day. Yet we need to ensure that this investment occurs sooner rather than later as we also need to implement measures to address the aged care workforce shortage, which is already a real issue in the sector.”

Ms Hills also called for more emphasis to be put on new and innovative services within the aged care sector.

“The move towards a more financially viable system is fantastic; however as providers we need the Government’s support so we can explore how to meet the changing needs of our clients in the future. To do this well, it is essential to look at researching and piloting new and innovative models of service delivery, and we need funds to be able to do that,” Ms Hills said.

“The budget announcements are a good start towards supporting our most vulnerable and disadvantaged community members, but what we need is the aged care investment and reforms to occur quickly, and in the next five years. To make this happen, we need the political will and commitment of our leaders to continue down this path of true reform to ensure Australia can provide world class aged care services for our ageing community now and into the future,” Ms Hills said.