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Federal Government prioritises disability scheme

10th May 2017

Last night’s Federal Budget has left older Australians in the dark about the future of aged care.

While the 2017-18 Federal Budget provides some funding for residential care and home support in the short term, and introduces minor initiatives to improve service delivery, much more is needed to address the long-term needs of Australia’s ageing population.

“We’re grateful no further cuts have been made to aged care. But we need to look beyond this”, says Ellen Flint, acting CEO of Benetas.

“It’s wonderful the Government has closed the funding gap for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and there’s no reason why we can’t do this for older Australians”, Ms. Flint said.

In recent years, aged care has suffered a series of savage cuts, including changes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) and the dementia services fund. Indeed, funding to the sector was reduced by $1.2 billion in last year’s Budget.

The Budget also doesn’t address some of the key issues in aged care. The sector has been subject to a relentless cycle of reviews in recent months, including the Aged Care Legislated Review, the review into alternatives to the Aged Care Funding Instrument, the Senate Inquiry into the Future of Australia’s Aged Care Workforce, and further rounds of consultation on the Aged Care Roadmap.

But we’re still no closer to understanding the Government’s vision for aged care. “Fifteen percent of Australia’s population (or 3.4 million Australians) is aged 65 years and older, and this figure will increase to almost 30 per cent by 2064.

“Why aren’t we fully funding aged care? Where is the model to guarantee services for older Australians well into the future? “We know the Federal Government can deliver evidence-based, innovative funding solutions, we’ve seen it with the NDIS and in agreements made with the pharmaceutical industry.

“We now call on the Government to provide a positive and coherent vision for aged care, which by necessity must include a sustainable funding strategy to ensure stability for providers and affordable, quality aged care for consumers”, Ms. Flint said.