Aged care funding will outstrip support for families this year, as the Morrison Government says it will “restore trust” in the aged care system.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has delivered the anticipated “aged care Budget”, formally announcing funding of more than $17 billion over the next five years to strengthen the sector.
This included an additional $6.5bn for 80,000 home care packages, increased requirements for residential care, boosted regulatory oversight and more training places.
Budget documents reveal support for seniors, including the age pension, is the second costliest program for the Australian Government, after funding for the states. It will hit more than $51bn next financial year, before rising to more than $56bn in 2024-2025.
Additionally, aged care service funding is the sixth biggest service area. Funding rose more than 5 per cent in real terms this year and will increase from $24.1bn to $31.1bn to 2024-2025.
This is an increase of 20.1 per cent and compares to family assistance at $21bn next financial year.
It overturns previous budgets when family assistance spending ranked higher than aged care services.
Announcing the funding plan, Mr Frydenberg said the $17.7bn in new funding would be targeted to “significantly improve the system” after the royal commission revealed shocking neglect and abuse.
“We are committed to restoring trust in the system and allowing Australians to age in dignity and respect,” he said.
The new measures include $6.5 billion for the release of 80,000 additional home care packages over the next two years. Mr Frydenberg said these would be largely level three and level four.
Budget papers said there would be $1.6bn for about 14,000 high-level home care packages “enabling people to live in their own home for longer”.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission regulator is set to be enabled to manage compliance and policequality care with an introduction of new star ratings. It is aimed at “developing a new approach for monitoring quality in the aged care sector to ensure aged care services meet the high standards of care that the community expects”.
Respite support for people who are caring for older Australians, including targeted services for those caring for people with dementia, will be funded with an extra $798.3m.
In residential aged care, the government is extending the $10 per resident per day boost to the Basic Daily Fee supplement at a total cost of $7.8bn.
An increase to the required care time per resident a day will rise to 200 minutes from nurses and personal carers, and residential care providers will be required to report and publish care staffing minutes on the MyAgedCare website.
Access in regional, rural and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and special needs groups is being targeted with $630.2m in funding.
Almost 34,000 more training places will be released to boost the skills and qualifications of workers in the industry.
Responding immediately to the announcements, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration welcomed the funding and the promised implementation of most of the aged care royal commission recommendations.
The AACC, which represents Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, LASA and UnitingCare Australia, said the response would finally address many of the sector’s challenges.
AACC representative Patricia Sparrow said the funding gave “real hope” to more than 1.3 million Australians currently accessing aged care services, as well as staff and families.
“Australia now spends half of what comparable countries do on aged care, and while this investment won’t close that funding gap entirely, it will provide structural relief in many critical areas.”
A digital edition with section bookmarks can be found here – Aged Care Royal Commission Digital Edition