Surplus ‘dead and buried’ as Government rolls out $17.6 billion coronavirus stimulus package to stave off recession – how will aged care benefit?

Published on

The package – announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured above right) and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (above left) – is designed to keep people in jobs and help small and medium-sized business survive the hit to the economy that is already unfolding as the virus spreads.

Under the package, businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff will be eligible for tax-free payments of up to $25,000 – with a minimum of $2,000 – to help pay wages or hire extra staff – that’s around 690,000 businesses and 7.8 million employees that will be eligible – including presumably aged care providers.

Larger businesses with a turnover between $50 million and $500 million will be able to write off assets instantly up to $150,000 – a cost of $700 million – with another $3.2 billion to support short-term business investment that will be available to 99% of Australian businesses – again the larger operators should seemingly be able to take advantage of this benefit.

In total, $11 billion will be injected into the economy between now and July, with the rest to be spent before July 2021 – on top of the $2.4 billion health package – including $100 million for aged care – announced on Wednesday.

LASA says they are still working with the Government to understand how these funds will translate into necessary supports for providers, older Australians and the aged care workforce. 

“Broader support for service viability also remains necessary, and is all the more important in the context of the broader stresses that the sector is facing,” CEO Sean Rooney said.

Whatever the makeup of the package, there will be other flow-on benefits to the sector too.

While casual workers will get immediate access to a sickness payment if they need to self-isolate as part of the package, those working in the gig economy will still be facing tough times ahead.

Casual workers will be looking for more secure employment – and aged care is an obvious choice.

People working in hospitality and tourism – industries that are focused on customer experience – will be looking for job opportunities and be able to bring in fresh talent – not only to areas like catering and purchasing, but also to middle management.

Those who are already working in the sector will value their employment more – because they know they have a secure job.

The additional hours needed from staff will also provide better job security and overtime.

Sadly, it is also highly likely that families – even those that only visit once a month – will cut back on visiting their elderly relatives – meaning staff will need to take on an even more important role in providing companionship.

Families will also be far more respectful of the staff coming to work every day to support their loved ones.

This may take time to filter through to the rest of the community because of the level of panic and misinformation available – we have heard from one provider that their staff have been verbally abused in public while wearing their uniforms because of fears over the virus.

But respect for all health workers can only increase in the medium- to long-term.

Critically, it will look bad for the media to be attacking the sector – so the negative stories that have come with the Royal Commission should have less appeal for the mainstream media.

There is still a way to go – should the outbreak last beyond the six months that the Government has planned for, the sector will need more support – and keeping the sector viable and sustainable beyond the crisis remains an issue.

But while there are difficult days ahead, will the sector – to borrow a line from the PM – ‘bounce back strongly’?