The Federal Government has begun the application process for the first phase of its election promise to provide $300 million in zero real interest loans to build or expand residential and community aged care places in areas of high need.
The Government plan is aimed at creating 2500 permanent residential aged care places in areas of high need such as regional and undersupplied areas.
The first stage of the three-phase initiative will allow for $150 million in zero real interest loans for up to 1250 Commonwealth-funded residential aged care places.
It will be followed by a review in 18 months before the loans for a further 1250 places are allocated.
“This is about finding new ways to get proven providers – through low cost finance – to establish aged care services in areas where they were previously unlikely to invest.” said Minister for the Ageing, Justine Elliot.
To ensure accountability and transparency, the Department of Health and Ageing will independently assess the applications and oversee the application process for loans.
Only those applicants who meet the a strict set of criteria set by the department will be considered for an allocation of places.
The loans are over 12 years and will target parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. All of the Northern Territory (with special attention to Aboriginal needs) and Tasmania are targeted.
State, territory and local government entities will be permitted to apply for the loans as in some small regional centres and rural and remote areas they are the only operators.
The department will not advertise set numbers of places in particular areas. Providers will be able to apply for both high and low care residential places and for community care places as part of an overall application to set up services in targeted locations.
Applications close on 6 June 2008 and the announcement of successful loans is scheduled for early August.