Minister Ken Wyatt has told Inside Ageing that he remains committed to seeing through the major policy reforms underway and expanding his consultation with aged care providers as a priority in the coming months.
Less than a week into the new job, it is becoming clear that Minister Wyatt’s former title of ‘assistant minister’ was very much semantics; he has had the portfolio in hand for quite some time now and is not skipping a beat in the reshuffle. Nor is he looking to rock the boat.
This should come to the relief of providers and the associations, who have been building rapport with Mr Wyatt over the last 18 months, following what has been a revolving door of ministers responsible for aged care.
On hearing the news of his promotion, Inside Ageing sent Minister Wyatt some brief questions about what the future holds for aged care under his leadership.
Here’s what he said:
What will be your first priority as the Minister for Aged Care?
One of my personal priorities that I am focussed on is the 100 roundtable forum. This will allow me to consult widely with the aged care sector including consumers and providers. I am also focussed on ensuring the Increasing Choice Reforms that will come into effect on 27 February are successful.
Will you be seeking to change any of the reforms in play or policy announcements that have been made over the last 18 months?
As the Assistant Minister responsible for Aged Care I was deeply involved in developing recent reform directions. I’m looking forward to continuing work on longer term reforms in aged care as the Minister for Aged Care, including considering the outcomes of the Legislated Review being led by Mr David Tune, working through possible alternative approaches to needs assessment in residential aged care, building on the 27 February 17 changes to ensure that consumer choice and control is real and enhanced in aged care, whilst ensuring that services in regional, rural and remote areas continue to be a vibrant part of Australia’s aged care.
Do you think aged care needs a whole-of-government approach given it touches innovation, finance, immigration (workforce), health, planning and education?
As the Assistant Minister I have always ensured to work openly with my colleagues in other portfolios and that I will continue to work in that way.
Will effectively losing its seat in Cabinet have ramifications for aged care?
Aged care has not lost its seat in Cabinet. Aged care continues to be part of the health portfolio, and aged care matters will be taken to Cabinet by the senior minister in the portfolio, as occurred in the past. Further, Aged Care has been elevated to its own portfolio giving it greater recognition.
When will the ACFI modelling recommendations from the University of Wollongong be made public?
The final report from the University of Wollongong will be received in the first week of February. I am committed to thorough consultation with the sector on future reforms for residential aged care needs assessment. When I receive the report I will consider how to best consult the sector on these important issues.
Will your industry roadmap forum meeting still go ahead and who will be attending?
Yes, the industry forum will go ahead on Wednesday 22 February 2017 in Sydney. It remains a key priority for me. I am currently finalising invitations.