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Budget 2011: The response



Above: Aged & Community Services Australia CEO, Pat Sparrow, responded to the budget yesterday.

By Stephen Easton

The Federal Budget has failed to provide much-needed funding to address the immediate unmet needs of older Australians requiring aged care, according to most of the sector.

The two aged care peak bodies, several aged care providers and advocacy group National Seniors all had a different take on Wayne Swan’s thrifty shopping list, but noted the lack of any new funding for aged care places.

With the Productivity Commission’s final blueprint for aged care reform, Caring for Older Australians, due for delivery to the government in June, this year’s budget did not address what some see as an urgently needed injection of funds into the current system, to provide care for Australians who need it now.

Pat Sparrow, CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), said the budget had “left aged care in limbo” by ignoring their “modest” pleas for more Commonwealth support.

“While ACSA acknowledges the constraints on the Federal Budget at a particularly challenging time, the industry is putting the government on notice that 2012 must be the aged care budget,” Ms Sparrow said.

“This year’s bid for funding sought to maintain services’ viability and some level of growth in the lead up to implementation of reforms proposed by the Productivity Commission.

“Our claim for $330 million, comprising a 1.75% care subsidy for residential and community care and a $10 daily increase in accommodation charges for high-care residents, is a small price to ensure vital aged care services.”

Ms Sparrow also said higher wages could result from the last week’s decision by Fair Work Australia, which would undermine the sector unless more funding was provided to cover the cost.

Aged Care Association chief Rod Young called the budget a “hold the line affair” for aged care and welcomed increases to mental health funding, as well as a program to provide digital set-top boxes for aged pensioners, allowing them to continue receiving free-to-air television as analogue transmissions continue to be switched off around the country.

But like Ms Sparrow, Mr Young also put the government on notice, turning his attention to next year and making clear the sector will not be ignored.

“We remind the Prime Minister that she also promised to deal with aged care as a second term priority,” Mr Young said. “Aged care is still waiting.”

“The details of this budget clearly show that reform, especially for capital investment in residential care, is now critical.

“The Government must move to implement aged care reforms in their second term as promised, which means significant reform must be delivered in the 2012 Budget.”

National Seniors CEO, Michael O’Neill, attended the Parliament House lock-up on behalf of older Australians and emerged with the statement that his constituents remained “unscathed” by a “vanilla budget”, referring to the flavour of ice-cream some consider common and unexciting.

Mr O’Neill supported new initiatives to increase workforce participation among seniors and the extension of concessions to self-funded retirees, but echoed the concerns of the aged care sector at being left out.

“Missing from this budget are reform measures around long-festering issues such dental and aged care,” he said. “Seniors expect to see something solid and substantial around these things in the coming year.”



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0 Responses to Budget 2011: The response

  1. PrudentEye May 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    I observed this budget did not look after anyone. Apart from the digital set box offer, the govt seemed to have neglected the aged and the frail. Since God himself can NOT please everyone as well, we may need to stand back and think more carefully about the nature of our demands. If this budget can make a positive difference to the lives of ALL australian under current and FUTURE conditions, then should we object it, based on our own personal interests ? Look at what is happening around us, many countries are almost wiped out by un-predictable events such as natural disasters, nuclear leakages, global financial crisis etc. These disasters can create instant poverty, and social instability. Money alone can not solve these problems, we also need human brains to overcome these obstacles. By acting prudently to improve the quality of human capital, re-skilling the workforce, and changing welfare rules, the govt is effectively making a lifesaver for the whole economy to be able to quickly bounce back from all kinds of future adversities, immunising us from perpetual poverty. The quality of our lives should not be dependant on how much short term cash individuals can get now, but what tools do we have, as a country, to insulate the ENTIRE economy from the global effects of natural and man-made disasters. I applaud any politicians demonstrating to us that their budget is not vote -seeking, and not short term orientated, AND a strong focus on making our two-tiered economy more stable and stronger.

  2. Prue Miller May 13, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    After reading the comment from PrudentEye I feel I just have to post a response for those people who actually work and live in the aged care system, which I suspect is a not a field of endeavour enjoyed by PrudentEye.
    By stating the bleeding obvious that a federal budget canot please everyone, it does not remove the Government’s duty to triage the areas that do desperately, need funding. Aged Care, the most dynamic area of growth in the services arena is in crucial need of assistance in many, may areas – not the least of them funding.
    Unaddressed in the PC draft was the area of funding for staff, and staffing numbers and ratios.
    Staffing is the most crucial area of all – aged care palaces may be built on every vacant block of land between here and Timbuktu, but without qualified staff the system will still fail. Without staff ratios that make the job and the outcome safer, and more attractive to workers, the system will fail. If the Government were to allocate enough funds to encourage and educate people to work on the lower echelon of the field – the AIN’s and carers, the ageing population would be in much better shape. The mere fact that an AIN is the one who will wipe your mothers demented tears, calm her fears, keep her safe from harm, and yes wipe her bottom and brush her hair and very often be the one left there to hold her hand as she passes away and is STILL paid less than lawn mowing guy, less than a hairdresser, less than a window cleaner … less than a set top box installer…. is an absolute disgrace.
    Who will be there for us, when we are distracted by the diseases of our ageing brains, when we cannot tell the time, the day or the names of our kids?
    We need to address what is a growing reality – the Governments need to take ageing out of the damn closet and deal with it. Set top boxes? Seriously? That $400 per idiot box could actually pay more than a week’s wages for a qualified assistant in nursing, and could go toward training a dozen more who might see the field as an honourable and respected position to attain.
    Of course fiscal resources are restricted – but that doesn’t mean they cannot be allocated to real needs of Australian taxpayers, rather that thrown into the yawning abyss of obscure, unrelated, international welfare.

  3. PrudentEye May 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    I like your very observant reply. I agreed with you that we should urge politicians of all parties to pay, well relatively speaking, MORE attention to the frail, and vulnerable of our society. I was dismayed to see that people had the gut to ask more handouts to be given to the “poor” families on $150k. I wish our media reports ditch sensational reporting, stop helping these rich and the powerful, how about pay more attention to the struggling pain of elders, their network of carers, and ways on how better to manage resources, si that we can avoid getting burned by the rising cost of living later down, when the economy is overheated by the mining boom. Our two-tiered economy is also digesting the unfortunate effects of global finacial crisis and disasters, australia’s future is looking like a a house built on quick sand.I observed no countries in the world including USA and Japan, had been prepared for the kind of disasters we had witnessed. If we allow politicians to divide this country into the above or below $150k thresholds, we are spreading ourselves thin. With such a large and unstable colony like ours, we need stronger and more versatile ants, so that we as a colony can increase our ability to produce, and generate more benefits for ALL. Lastly. I urge politicians to demonstrate that they genuinely care for Australia, by working cohesively together. If Tony really understood the pain of rising cost of living, please covert your energy & empathy into real budget strategies. While govt should encourage its opposition team to come up with more good plans, rather than putting labels on them. Budget is not a score card for politicians to take cheap shot at each other. It is our future.

  4. Steve Mcloughlin June 22, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    Hello My Name Is Steve Mcloughlin Im Be Looking After My Mum Since 8 Years Since My dad Passed-Away From Cancer In 2004 After That Last Year I Lost My Oldest Sister From Cancer Now It’s Me At Home Looking After My Mum Since My Dad And My Sister Passed-Away Now My Mum Is 81 Years Old Years Old Now In 2012 Im Working At Endeavour Getting About $1:50 An Hour So Our Off Pay Day From Centrlelink Me And My Mum Have To Live What I Get From Work $1:50 An Hour Come On Thats The Honest Truth Thats How Im Much Im Getting An Hour Because Im Living On DSP Payment From Centrelink And From Work $1:50 An Hour Could The Politicans Live On $1:50 An Hour Come And Be In My Shoes For A Week Look After My Mum Work Two Day’s A Week For $1:50 An Hour Then Your Life Will Change For That Week Julia Gardard And Toni Abott And Wayne Swan Be In My Shoe For A Week I Dare You ?

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