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Providers must ‘make noise’ on funding

New campaign features aged care professionals

New campaign launched today calls on government to rule out funding cuts in next month’s budget, while sector stakeholders eye more coordinated grassroots lobbying.

Aged care providers are ramping up pressure on the Commonwealth to prevent against further cuts to aged care funding ahead of the federal budget next month.

The Aged Care Guild, which represents the nine major for-profit providers, has launched a campaign, Protect Aussie Aged Care, that features aged care residents and employees and highlights the impact of any future funding reductions.

Many sector stakeholders are wary of what’s in store when the budget is handed down on 9 May given the last round of $1.2 billion in funding cuts to aged care were contained in last year’s budget.

Cameron O’Reilly

Cameron O’Reilly, chief executive officer of the guild said his group called on the Federal Government to rule out further cuts and maintain funding for aged care in this year’s budget.

“Our sector has endured a number of budget cuts in recent years, and we are now at a point where any further reduction in funding will severely compromise the ability of the sector to offer affordable care and meet future demand for care places,” Mr O’Reilly said.

The new campaign comes after aged care peak bodies used their pre-budget submissions to call for stable aged care funding, as Australian Ageing Agenda reported in January (read that story here).

Launched today, the guild’s campaign features “the voices of aged care residents and employees… who understand the impact further funding cuts would have.”

The industry is facing major challenges in meeting the demands of an ageing population and delivering the 76,000 new beds that are required by 2026, Mr O’Reilly said.

“Further cuts would make a difficult situation much worse. The sector needs funding stability to ensure it can continue to provide the services elderly Australians need,” he said.

The $1.2 billion cut to the ACFI in last year’s budget followed a $472 million reduction in funding in the 2015 MYEFO, the freezing of indexation in 2012 and the removal of the Payroll Tax supplement in the 2014 Budget, the guild argued.

Providers must ‘get in front of federal MPs’

The launch of today’s campaign comes as aged care provider peaks and consumer groups eye a more coordinated grassroots approach to government lobbying.

Speaking at the Aged Care Business Model Innovation conference last week, Mr O’Reilly said that given the increasing demand for aged care and mounting pressure on the federal health budget, providers needed to “make noise” and “get in front of federal MPs.”

“One thing this industry has is a presence across every federal electorate and every federal MP should see you – not just at election time. Make them understand your challenges and the benefits you’re providing to the community,” Mr O’Reilly told the Sydney audience.

“You’re also providing a lot of jobs,” he said, adding that 70 per cent of the $14 billion in government subsidies to aged care was spent on wages. “That’s going to people who spend; they’re putting that money back into the economy.”

Mr O’Reilly said:

“I would encourage the entire sector to be getting in the face of their federal MPs, doing tours for them, making the case for what we do. That helps protect our role in the economy and make it understood.”

Pat Sparrow, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia, said that MPs wanted to better understand aged care and agreed providers should be building relationships with their local representatives.

Ian Yates, chief of COTA, pointed to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, which was successful because it had a guild pharmacy in every electorate.

“If we wanted to pick up the same approach in aged care we would have to become more disciplined in the sector as a whole – provider peaks, consumers, unions – in the messaging, because too often we’re out there giving different messages,” he said.

Access the Protect Aussie Aged Care campaign here 

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