The real test of aged care reform will be the Federal Budget

Media Release

20 April 2021

Australia’s aged care sector expects the Federal Government to immediately commit to  implementing the major recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality  and Safety, through the twin pillars of the upcoming Budget and a subsequent longer-term  aged care plan. 

With media speculation indicating that an additional $2.5 billion a year for four years ($10  billion) will be committed to aged care in the Budget, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration  (AACC) is calling for a more comprehensive program that will ensure older Australians  receive the care, respect and dignity they deserve.  

Independent research by the Grattan Institute suggests that an additional $7 billion per year  is required to lift Australia’s aged care system to an acceptable level. 

“We’ve been calling for an end to the drip-feed of ad hoc measures for more than a decade – anything less is not what the Royal Commission demanded,” AACC joint representative  Patricia Sparrow said. 

“Older Australians need a much more comprehensive aged care reform program where  people don’t die waiting for services, and where providers can employ more and better paid  and trained staff so the overall standard of care steadily increases.” 

AACC joint representative Sean Rooney said an additional $2.5 billion a year over four years would not adequately meet the needs of older Australians.  

“The AACC has submitted a 15-point plan of reform to government, focusing on the priority  areas of human rights, access and choice, workforce, transparency and sustainability,” he  said. 

“These are the areas that should receive funding to ensure older Australians receive the  care and choice they need.” 

The need for reform is clear, with Australia spending only 1.2 per cent of GDP on aged care  compared to an international average of 2.5 per cent. 

The AACC released its report “Aged Care – the way forward” last week which highlights the  immediate priorities in these areas for Government action.  

Ms Sparrow said older Australians deserved quality care, not rationed care.

“Australians who need to see a doctor can do so at any time through Medicare, but home  care places for older Australians are restricted,” she said. 

“This has seen 30,000 older vulnerable Australians die in the past two years waiting for the  care they need in their own home.” 

Mr Rooney said communal residential care facilities also needed more financial support, with  an independent report forecasting that up to 65 per cent of aged care homes will lose money  in the next financial year. 

“We respect Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to call this Royal Commission in 2018  and his repeated commitments to follow through to fix the system,” he said. 

“The Prime Minister’s legacy will be measured by his overall and far-reaching response to  the Royal Commission’s recommendations and we are determined to see his Government  deliver. 

“He has the opportunity to succeed where other Prime Ministers and governments  have desperately failed, realising a world-leading aged care system that older Australians  need and deserve, now and into the future.