A panel of providers, consumers and public policy experts have been appointed by Minister Anika Wells to give advice regarding aged care funding.
Under the terms of reference, the panel is tasked with ensuring the aged care system is “fair and equitable for all Australians”.
This will include assessing a fair and equitable approach to consumer contributions, including “the scope of income and assets included in the assessment of means”.
National Seniors Australia has welcomed the formation of the Aged Care Taskforce, which includes former NSA CEO, Professor John McCallum (pictured).
The Taskforce’s primary aim is to review funding arrangements to ensure they are fair and equitable and create a safe and high-quality system.
Two years after the completion of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, there are great expectations among all Australians that the quality of aged care will be improved.
While much has already been done to change the system, including better pay for staff, new quality standards and star ratings, one of the key difficulties in this long-term reform process is funding.
Quality of care cannot be improved without adequate funding and transparency about how that funding is spent.
With a new aged care act in development, it is critical that the government gets funding right, otherwise we will not get the quality services older people deserve.
Aged Care Taskforce members
Minister Wells (Chair)
Mr Nigel Ray PSM (Deputy Chair)
The Hon Mike Baird AO
Professor Tom Calma AO
Mr Grant Corderoy
Ms Rosemary Huxtable PSM
Professor John McCallum
Ms Mary Patetsos AM
Ms Pat Sparrow
Mr Tom Symondson
Ms Janine Walker AM
Mr Thomas Walker
Ms Margaret Walsh OAM
The Hon John Watkins AM
During last week's Press Club address, Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells declared there would be a stronger focus on dementia and acknowledged that workforce shortages was the number one issue facing providers.
Dementia care is core to aged care with more than 50% of people in residential care living with dementia. National Seniors welcomed the commitment to developing a 10-year Dementia Action Plan and will be monitoring this closely.
Increased recruitment and retention are also key. The recent 15% pay increase in wages will help attract and retain staff, but more could be done.
National Seniors continues to call for a dedicated mature age traineeship scheme, such as the one successfully trialled in South Australia and for changes to pension income test rules to allow older workers to be rewarded for continuing to work in the sector.
Of course, underpinning any improvement to care is funding. Whatever funding models are put forward by the Taskforce, they must be the fairest and most efficient way to raise the funds. Conversations with the community must be a part of this process.
In her speech, the Minister outlined that the Taskforce would provide a draft report by October with a final report in December.
It is likely, therefore, that any funding options put forward from the Taskforce will be announced in the 2024 May Budget, although this is yet to be confirmed.
In doing so, the Minister has signalled that all options are on the table, including a levy and increased user payments.
However, it is clear from the Minister’s speech and the terms of reference that consumer contributions will be one area that is being strongly considered.
National Seniors will continue to monitor developments and update members and supporters as news comes to hand.