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Minister’s Column



AGEING FUTURE FOR US ALL Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services

The Royal Commission and the COVID-19 pandemic have proven to be the greatest incentives to change the way we care for senior Australians—to support them with dignity, care and respect as they age.

The Australian Government has embraced the opportunity for true and lasting reform, and we stand with the sector to implement the once-in-a-generation reforms over the next five years. The recent Budget outlined an unprecedented $17.7 billion aged care package, framed across the five pillars: • $7.5 billion to reform the in-home care system, including $6.5 billion for an additional 80,000 Home Care Packages. • $7.8 billion to preserve the viability of residential aged care services and ensure senior Australians get value for money. • $942 million to drive systemic improvements to residential aged care quality and safety. • $652.1 million to grow a skilled, professional and compassionate aged care workforce. • $698.3 million to improve governance across the aged care system, to embed respect and dignity at the heart of the system. The hard work has already begun. This year alone will see extra support for informal carers, investment in workforce, additional funding to improve the sustainability and capability of the sector, new system governance arrangements including a Council of Elders providing advice to Government, and much more. An additional 80,000 Home Care Packages will also be delivered over the next two years to help more seniors live at home, for longer.

The much-needed reforms will change business models for providers of aged care services for the better—whether it be in home care, or in residential facilities.

Each step of the way, discussions will take place between the Commonwealth, the sector and aged care consumers to understand what the changes mean, and where needed, they will be phased in to allow time for businesses to prepare. For residential aged care services, new prudential monitoring, compliance and intervention will help providers build financial sustainability, capability and resilience. These changes will commence this year. The Government is backing the sector with $3.9 billion to meet minimum care times, which will be increased to 200 minutes per day next year and be mandatory by October 2023. This gives the sector time to adjust and build their workforce. That workforce will be strengthened by significant Government investment in additional training places and incentives for registered nurses to choose a career in aged care. We are making immediate improvements to the quality of care in dementia and diversity. A further $3.2 billion will support aged care providers to deliver better care and services, including food, through the Government-funded Basic Daily Fee Supplement of $10 per resident per day. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care will be developing stronger clinical care standards from 1 July 2021, while a new aged care funding model will be in place in 2022 to improve the quality of care for 240,000 senior Australians in residential care, and 67,000 people using residential respite care. The pace and breadth of change may seem daunting—but the Government’s plan is thorough, holistic, decisive and achievable. This is an opportunity to create real and meaningful change. We are all embarking on a path to undertake key structural and governance changes needed to improve the quality of care for seniors and build the workforce of tomorrow.

We are on this journey together and I invite all providers to take part in future stakeholder forums to ensure the sector has ongoing input into the new aged care system—a system with an unwavering focus on respect, care and dignity. I urge everyone in the aged care sector to review the Government’s vision, outlined in Respect, care, dignity: A generational plan for aged care in Australia. ■