Opinion: Why the aged care sector needs a focused strategy ahead of the upcoming federal election

In this guest post, Angus Crowther, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tanck, outlines the best strategies for approaching government to develop targeted engagement with policymakers.

The upcoming federal election is a critical time for the aged care sector due to several factors. Firstly, as parties unveil their main election platforms, such as “A Future Made in Australia” for ALP and “Back to Basics” for Libs, the aged care sector must carefully assess how these platforms address their specific needs and concerns.

Effective government engagement demands a focused strategy and a tailored set of tactics to achieve desired outcomes. Particularly for the aged care sector, securing essential resources and policy changes directly impact the quality of care provided to older Australians.

Given the ageing population and increasing demand for aged care services, the outcome of the election and subsequent policies will have a profound impact on the future of the aged care sector and the well-being of older Australians – for better or for worse.

Election commitments play a pivotal role in shaping the aged care workforce landscape.

Policies addressing recruitment, training, and retention of skilled professionals are crucial for ensuring the delivery of high-quality care to older Australians and contribute to the peace of mind of families who care for older Australians too.

Investment in workforce development programs, such as scholarships and training initiatives, can help address workforce shortages and improve the overall quality of care. By prioritising workforce issues in election platforms, policymakers can support a sustainable and skilled aged care workforce that meets the diverse needs of older Australians now and in the future.

To secure election commitments, the first step is to have a focused strategy. For example, identifying and building bridges to key stakeholders within the parliament, government departments, and the political parties, can help influence policy decisions related to your goal. When doing this it is vital to tailor your issues, so they resonate with the values and priorities of these stakeholders as it creates opportunities for meaningful engagement and relationship building.

This may involve advocating for increased funding, improved regulatory frameworks, or enhanced support services for older Australians and their caregivers.

Additionally, don’t be singular when looking to secure commitments. Look to secure commitments from both major and minor parties as it is crucial for advancing the interests of the aged care sector.

A proven tactic that has yielded positive outcomes is to secure a commitment from one major party and then leverage this success by getting the other major party to match it.

“While tactics may vary depending on the specific challenges facing the aged care sector, one constant remains: the importance of strategic and targeted engagement with policymakers”.

By staying informed about the evolving political landscape and adapting your approach accordingly, you can ensure your organisation is well-positioned to advocate effectively for your needs and secure meaningful commitments from policymakers during elections. Most importantly, it is essential that in achieving this you remain true to your own values and make these approaches – and secure commitments – in an authentic way.

Perhaps easier said than done, but this is where starting early will pay off.

The upcoming federal election presents a critical juncture for the aged care sector, where effective government engagement is essential to address the pressing needs of older Australians. With policies and funding allocations directly impacting the quality of care provided, it is imperative for aged care organisations to actively participate in the election process and ensure that their priorities are heard and addressed by policymakers. Because the alternative is more policy drift, more crises left unresolved, and poorer outcomes for older Australians and their families.

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