John Kelly spells out ACSA’s view of the new aged care legislation

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Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO John Kelly talked to us this morning about his organisation’s view on the new aged care legislation. ACSA is a peak body largely representing not-for-profit operators in aged care and retirement villages.
ACSA believes in broad terms that the legislation is a step in the right direction as it assists the sector in moving to a more market-driven approach in the medium term. This relates to the freeing up of the charging and pricing models for aged care given the increasing demand on resources.
He points out that 1,000 people reach the age of 65 every week and the current model made it hard to innovate because of the heavy regulation.
ACSA however does not support the industrial regulations surrounding the Workforce Supplement, Add a titlewhere government assists in funding increases in wages but only if its wage guidelines are agreed to and followed. While supporting responsible wage improvement ACSA believes each employer should be free to negotiate with its workforce, allowing flexibility.
ACSA is also concerned about the significant number of small care facilities operated by community groups – which John estimates at 65% of the 2800 care facilities across Australia.
Many of them are marginal businesses which the Productivity Commission and the Senate enquiry both supported, providing funding such short-term loans to assist them to transition to the more market-driven model – but this was not supported by the government.
Instead it was agreed to monitor their financial health and review in five years time.
ACSA feels this could be too long because these facilities will be required to make capital expenditure decisions in that period; if the process is not working it needs to be fixed before five years. ACSA requested a maximum of a three year review. Senator Xenophon proposed 18 months.
The government response was to provide $6.9 million for a business advisory service over three years, but this also has to pay for the government monitoring body ACFA which will absorb half that in overheads.
ACSA however was pleased with the new Homeless Supplement, which provides an added safety net for the most needy in the community.