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Federal Budget Heralds Modest Aged Care Reforms

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The 2018 Federal Budget, handed down by Treasurer Scott Morrison on 8 May, contains some additional funding for home-based aged care, but no specific provisions for the environmental modifications which will support it. A greater commitment to funding suitable housing needs to underpin the push toward reform in aged care.

MOD.A has been working to influence Aged Care reforms, through direct representation of the industry to the Minister for Aged Care and the Department of Health, and by working with the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA). The last NACA meeting took place in Melbourne on 17 and 18 May and MOD.A Managing Director, Michael Bleasdale was there to hear talks from the Minister for Aged Care, the Hon. Ken Wyatt MP, and from representatives of the Department of Health, about details of the budget announcements on aged care.

Minister Wyatt indicated that the commitment of $5b over the next 4 years was a major statement by government towards aged care. An additional 14,000 Home Care Packages (HCP), primarily at Levels 3 and 4, added to the 6,000 additional packages which had been announced midway through the 2017-2018 financial year. The Minister also pointed out other measures such as the $100m allocated to address mental health amongst aged care recipients. Residential aged care will receive the bulk of this funding ($80m) but $20m has been set aside for mental health nurses to assist older people remaining at home.

There are no specific housing-related measures for older people in the budget, but some allocation has been made toward housing and homelessness generally. This includes funding for the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement due to start in July 2018 and money for various infrastructure projects across the country. Clearly any funding to build better housing is welcome, but MOD.A is concerned that there does not appear to be an adequate focus on the development of age-friendly, suitable housing within general housing budget allocations, nor does it appear to be prioritised within aged care allocations.

An excellent overview of the budget and how it relates to the aged care sector can be found on the Council of the Ageing (COTA) Australia website.


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