Budget leaves older Australians still waiting

Leading Age Services Australia says the Government’s decision to focus on tax cuts and a bigger surplus means it has missed the opportunity to meet the needs of the 120,000 older Australians on the home care wait list.


The major aged care funding measures announced in the Budget on 2 April 2019 were those which had already been announced in February. While this funding and earlier announcements in MYEFO are welcome, industry has made clear that it will not address the urgent challenges facing the sector.


Other measures announced focussed largely on investment in new regulatory measures along with an extension of the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and supporting the implementation of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy.


LASA Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney said while these announcements are welcome, the Budget overall shows the Government does not have a strategy to make aged care better right now.


“We acknowledge the investment in aged care announced tonight but with a $7.1 billion surplus, many aged care providers and the older Australians they serve will be rightly disappointed.


“While the Government has extended Commonwealth Home Support Programme contracts by another two years, it is disappointing that they did not outline a plan to significantly reduce waiting lists for home care packages.


“LASA has called for legislated maximum wait times for home care of no more than three months and it is disappointing that this Budget seems unlikely to change the more than 12 months that older Australians are currently waiting for home care.”


“While the initiatives announced tonight and in recent months will go some way to meeting the needs of older Australians and alleviating some issues facing the sector, more still needs to be done to appropriately resource affordable, sustainable, quality aged care and services.


“We have detailed what we think the funding priorities should be, along with a range of measures to free up funding for age services without any cost to the Budget, alongside vital research required to drive future reform in the sector.


“With an election expected to be called at any time, it’s now up to Australia’s next Government to deliver for older Australians, their families and carers.”


3 April 2019.