Is this a down payment on Australia’s future aged care system – or a band aid solution?
The Morrison Government has flagged that it will fund 10,000 new Home Care Packages – at a cost of $850 million – in its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) due to be handed down today by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
It is the third MYEFO in a row that the Government has released 10,000 new Packages – last year, it followed the Royal Commission’s Interim report where Home Care Packages were one of three areas identified for urgent attention.
Since then, the Government has funded 50,000 additional new Packages – but about 102,000 people remain on the waiting list.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the new packages would increase the number of Australians receiving home care to 195,600 by 30 June 30 next year.
But the new funding does not guarantee shorter waiting times – currently around 12 months for a lower-level package and longer for Level 3 and 4 Packages – or that the workforce will be available to meet growing demand – which the Government has used as an argument against clearing the waiting list.
Other funding commitments in the MYEFO include an additional $8.2 million to extend the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre until 30 June 2021.
Three other announcements – $57.8 million to fund jurisdictions to support Infection Prevention and Control training within facilities, $11.1 million for the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) and $63.3 million to support increased access to health services, mental health support and allied health group services for residents living in aged care homes impacted by coronavirus outbreaks – were already announced two weeks ago as part of the Government’s $132 million response to the Royal Commission’s special COVID report.