“You can’t just turn this on like a tap”: PM defends Budget spending on home care amid criticism

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Scott Morrison was also put on the defensive on the radio – where he warned the sector and the public should not expect the home care wait list to be cleared.

Appearing on 2GB, Mr Morrison labelled it “unrealistic” – and potentially dangerous – to roll out more Home Care Packages than the 23,000 announced in Tuesday night’s Budget.

As we reported here, the Federal Government will spend $1.6 billion over the next four years – or $400 million – a year to fund 23,000 new packages.

The waiting list is currently sitting at over 100,000 however – and many in the sector have criticised the numbers as being ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared to the real demand in the community.

But the PM said that clearing the list is an “unrealistic expectation”.

PM says workers must be trained

“Since we came into government, we have tripled the number of in-home aged care places,” he told Jim Wilson.

“You can’t just turn this on like a tap – there has to be workers trained, there has to be people who can provide those services.”

“If you just rush the funding into a program like this … you will have people who are providing care in people’s homes, you will have implementation problems, you will have standards of quality and care that would be at risk.”

“The notion you can just create 60,000 places in in-home aged care overnight is not practical: in fact, it could be quite dangerous.”

Labor asks how Government can rack up $1 trillion debt while Australians die on wait list

Separately during Question Time, Mr Morrison was asked by Labor MP Ged Kearney:

“Over the past three years, 30,000 Australians died waiting for approved Home Care Packages to be delivered. There are 102,000 Australians on the Home Care waiting list. How on earth with can the government rack up $1 trillion of Liberal debt but only announce an average of 6,000 Home Care places a year over the next four years?”

Mr Morrison defended his Government’s track record, noting that the number of home care places in the forward estimates has increased to over 180,000 and the Government would be making a further response to the Royal Commission in next May’s Budget or sooner.

“We need to ensure that proper care is paid to those who are receiving those in-home aged care places,” he stated. “And we’re not going to go down the reckless path that those opposite pursued when they were in government, throwing money around with no thought to the consequences of how they implement it, Mr Speaker.”

Time to turn on the tap?

This is a valid point – and one that has been debated by the Royal Commission. Without the corresponding workforce to provide services, could older Australians be left without their approved supports?

While the Budget contained $10.3 million to help the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council implement the Aged Care Workforce Strategy, there was little other funding for training and recruiting workers.

However, there is also under-employment in the home care sector – and a significant pool of Australians now looking for new job opportunities in the wake of COVID.

The Royal Commission is also weighing up removing the rationing on home care – to ensure older people have speedy access to services.

The Prime Minister may not want to turn on the tap – but the time may be coming where he may have to do so.

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