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Advocacy agencies sign network agreement ahead of decision on program delivery

The nine state-based agencies that provide advocacy to recipients of aged care are urging the Federal Government to confirm the future delivery of the program, as their funding is due to run out in January.

In late February the Commonwealth released the report from the review into Australia’s aged care advocacy services which found there was support for a new single framework and for combining the two advocacy schemes into an integrated program.

Currently the government funds advocacy services through the National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP) and the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). Services are delivered by a different organisation in each state, and two in the Northern Territory.

At the time, the government confirmed the state advocacy services would have their funding extended to January 2017 while it consulted with stakeholders on the development of the framework.

It also confirmed the delivery of services under the new program would be decided through an “open funding round,” but did not provide any further details of that tender.

Australian Ageing Agenda this week asked the Department of Health what stakeholder engagement had been undertaken since March and when it expected the tender to be released. A spokesperson said: “Advice will be provided shortly to advocacy providers and key stakeholders regarding the consultation process and timing of an open funding round.”

The nine state agencies said that a decision on the new program’s delivery is needed, as there is uncertainty around the services once the funding ends in January.

Collectively the agencies provided 17,000 advocacy services and face-to-face education consultations to 79,000 older people in the 2014-15 year, they said.

Agreement signed to strengthen cooperation

Russell Westacott

Russell Westacott

Russell Westacott, CEO of Seniors Rights Service in NSW, said the nine agencies had also committed to a stronger working relationship having just signed a memorandum of understanding to formalise their Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).

“The OPAN group will now be able to participate in national debates and discourse about policy-making that affect the lives of older Australians who received aged care,” Mr Westacott told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“OPAN is now better placed to argue for those receiving aged care due to the new national arrangement of the nine agencies,” he said.

As the reforms to Australia’s aged care sector continued, OPAN would play a central role in ensuring older people understand their rights and their service options, Mr Westacott said.

Greg Mahney

Greg Mahney

Greg Mahney, chief executive of Advocare, the advocacy service in Western Australia, said that OPAN played a significant role in dual referral between My Aged Care and the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.

“OPAN services across the country are essential in bringing equity and support to some of Australia’s most vulnerable and marginalised people,” Mr Mahney said.

For the last 30 years advocacy services had played an integral role in ensuring that recipients of aged care services received quality care, he added.

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