With just one month until the Federal Budget is expected, the coalition of six aged care peak bodies has released its formal response to the Royal Commission’s Final Report, providing a 15-point plan it says the Government needs to act on immediately – including getting rid of the Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR).
As we reported here, the group – which comprises Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and UnitingCare Australia and represents 1,000 providers (pictured above are AACC representatives Sean Rooney and Pat Sparrow at the press conference) – ‘took the gloves off’ in mid-February, launching a comprehensive media campaign targeting the Coalition’s slim three-seat majority.
Now they have released a 24-page report titled ‘Aged care – the way forward’ containing 15 recommendations across four priority areas:
- Human rights, access and choice
Specific areas targeted to be fast-tracked include:
- By July 2023, commit to legislating a new rights-based Aged Care Act.
- By December 2022, provide funding for removing the home care package waiting list.
- By July 2024, commit to the development and implementation of a new uncapped and better integrated aged care program.
- Announce a timetable for removing the Aged Care Approvals Round.
- In 2021-22, announce a joint Australian Government, employer and union application to the Fair Work Commission to increase minimum award wages.
- Fund a workforce program to support training, clinical placements, scholarships and other initiatives and commit to the development of a 10-year workforce strategy.
- By December 2022, commit to enhanced transparency and accountability provisions, including star ratings and reporting of care staff hours.
- Funding commencing July 2021 for implementing amendments to indexation arrangements; extension of the 30% increase in the Viability Supplement; a $10 increase per resident per day in funding for everyday living expenses; and a program to reimburse employer staff development costs pending an independent pricing authority.
- By July 2022, establish an independent aged care pricing authority.
“Our report suggests which Royal Commission recommendations should be prioritised to ensure older Australians get the most benefit, in the quickest time,” AACC representative Sean Rooney said.
But while short-term solutions were critical, the group says the Government also needed to include a clear roadmap for longer term reform.
“Older Australians and our sector need a clear statement from Government on longer term reform intent and an indicative implementation timetable which will provide clarity and certainty for the community, older people, aged care workers and service providers about the future policy settings and program design for Australia’s future aged care system,” Mr Rooney added.
This includes tackling the all-important issue of funding – and user pays.
“This means we need to start a national conversation about how the aged care system can be sustainably funded, and whether that means individuals contribute more to their own care,” Mr Rooney explained.
Is the Government prepared to initiate this conversation with the Australian public?