Aged care providers and consumer groups have called for bipartisan support for further reform of aged care, following the release of the sector’s Aged Care Roadmap this week.
The roadmap was produced by the Aged Care Sector Committee, which is the government-appointed body of providers, consumers and professional groups. If implemented its recommendations would be the biggest reforms so far in transitioning aged care into a market-based, consumer-driven system.
With the release of the roadmap coming two weeks before the federal budget, stakeholders are hoping to see some key measures in the budget enacting elements of the recommendations. And with the federal election on 2 July looking increasingly likely, they’re also optimistic that the major parties will adopt the roadmap’s principles within their election manifestos.
While the roadmap was released this week, it’s understood that stakeholders had been making representations to MPs and ministers for weeks about the content of the document and the direction it was taking.
There was now a level of expectation that some elements of the roadmap would feature in the budget, but there were conflicting signals about whether that would happen, said Ian Yates, chief executive of Council on the Ageing (COTA).
“The key thing is to actually put forward a schedule for reform that is bipartisan, so the sector knows it will be implemented, and can plan for it,” Mr Yates told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“We are not only expecting a response along those lines from the government but also from the opposition, and we would anticipate support for that from the Greens,” he added.
Similarly, the peak body for major private residential providers has called for bipartisan support for the roadmap, saying a clear vision for future reform was needed to ensure continued investment in the sector.
The Aged Care Guild CEO Cameron O’Reilly said he urged both sides of politics to embrace the roadmap as the next stage in the reform process.
“We don’t expect policymakers to embrace all aspects of the Roadmap, but we do want to see from government clear reform plans, consultation and certainty around policy and regulatory change, so in that regard the roadmap is a welcome initiative,” Mr O’Reilly said in a statement.
Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Adjunct Professor John Kelly said he thought it was probably too early to expect anything from the roadmap to feature in the forthcoming budget.
“But I am optimistic that minister [Sussan] Ley understands the difficulties facing aged care providers in the bush and that we might see something in the budget supporting regional and rural aged care,” he told AAA.
While not addressing Labor’s views on the recommendations, shadow minister on ageing Shayne Neumann told AAA that he welcomed the release of the roadmap, and that it would have an important role to play in the forthcoming review of the current Living Longer Living Better reforms.
“I am wary of the timing of the roadmap’s release, given that the Turnbull-Morrison Budget is due on 3 May 2016. This is when we will see whether this government has the resolve to commit to genuine reform, or whether they will continue to treat aged care as their own private piggy bank,” Mr Neumann said.
AAA also sought the response of Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley, and Greens spokesperson on aged care Senator Rachel Siewert, to the roadmap. They were not provided by our deadline – but will be updated below if provided.
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