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Sussan Ley appointed Minister for Aged Care


Aged care is set to move department again – for the second time in two years.

While Christian Porter becomes the shortest serving minister responsible for the sector, of just over a week.

Sussan Ley

Sussan Ley

In a surprise move Sussan Ley on Wednesday announced she had been appointed Minister for Aged Care, in addition to her portfolio responsibilities as Minister for Health and Minister for Sport.

Ms Ley said she “proactively put [her] hand up to bring responsibility for aged care back to health and give it a seat at the Cabinet table.”

Bringing the aged care portfolio to sit alongside the Ministries of Health and Sport would complement an integrated health system, she said.

A key theme highlighted during her consultations with health professionals over the past nine months had been the connection between health and aged care, she said.

Ms Ley said she looked forward to advancing the important reforms that had been progressed under former Assistant Minister for Social Services Senator Mitch Fifield.

She said that Ken Wyatt would have a specific focus on aged care in his role as Assistant Minister for Health.

Departmental move

The announcement means that aged care will move from the Department of Social Services back to the Department of Health.

When the Abbott government took office in September 2013 it surprised stakeholders by taking aged care out of the health department, which ended a 15-year departmental arrangement. The Department of Health and Aged Care was first created in 1998 under the Howard government and was later renamed the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) in November 2001.

Some argued that transferring aged care to DSS, putting it into the same portfolio as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), made sense as aged care was pursing a consumer-directed model while the NDIS was similarly focussed on client-centered decision making.

However, concerns around the departmental arrangement have persisted, as much of aged care’s remit – such as palliative care, dementia, infection control and wound care – concern programs and policies administered by the health department.

Many stakeholders will welcome the moving of aged care back to the health department, although there will likely be concern over the administrative and bureaucratic implications of such a large-scale move.

As AAA reported at the time, several informed observers said there was no doubt that the departmental changes had added to the normal delays seen with a change of government, which slowed down the aged care reform process (see Talking Points, Jan-Feb 2014).

A dedicated and named minister

Ahead of the most recent Cabinet reshuffle on 20 September, several stakeholders had called for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to appoint a dedicated minister for the sector and will likely welcome today’s surprise announcement.

However, many had argued for a minister for ageing, rather than aged care, given the issues around the ageing population had implications across a range of areas such as housing, pensions and superannuation.

The appointment of Ms Ley as Minister for Aged Care comes just 10 days after aged care stakeholders had welcomed Christian Porter as the new minister responsible for their sector.

READ NEXT: New minister: sector stakeholders react

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5 Responses to Sussan Ley appointed Minister for Aged Care

  1. Cherie Hugo September 30, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    Welcome Sussan Ley! Good to see a decent step in the right direction allocating more of a focus on Older Australians. They are such an integral part of what makes this country great – they provide wisdom that is often ignored now in preference to Google. They deserve the best in terms of health and quality of life. The two go hand in hand and we can demonstrate this through projects such as http://www.thelanternproject.com.au .We look forward to chatting with you in the near future about the project and how we can help. Warm regards, Cherie Hugo Dietitian, PhD Scholar and founder of The Lantern Project.

  2. Tony Rolfe October 1, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    With Sussan Ley’s appointment as Minister for Aged Care yesterday we have a return to the title abandoned many years ago during the Howard Government. Does this then mean that while we have ‘Residential Aged Care’ policies and practices, we should now have ‘Community Aged Care’ policies and practices. Just to be consistent of course.

  3. Carole October 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    It is great to see that Ageing has been recognised as a National priority. It is fabulous to also have Ken Wyatt as assistant minister, as he has a great interest and affiliation with rural and remote. We welcome their passion and commitment. It would have been good to see the title as Ageing versus Aged, which would have started to change some of the cultural changes and ageism that exists.

  4. Tony Rolfe October 2, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    I agree Carol as ‘Ageing’ had become far wider than what had been perceived – rightly or wrongly – by ‘aged care’ focusing on residential care specifically. Hence my previous comment.

    However, the name is far less significant than the fact that we now have a Minister in Cabinet and ably supported by a new Assistant Minister very aware of the variance between metro/urban issues and rural/remote.

    A good call I say and well done to Sussan for recognising the need and ding something about it – and, it only took her a week to achieve this terrific outcome.

  5. Fay Kennedy October 5, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    I want senior citizens travelling interstate to have national concessions. Why is it not available in NSW since they brought in their Opal scheme? II was out of pocket recently when visiting a sick friend in Sydney. These events are not planned so to secure concession travel is problematic. Why is it that those who can least afford goods and services always pay the most? Please answer.

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