The three aged care peaks have jointly called for a focus on aged care funding in the upcoming five Federal by-elections.
The five by-elections are being held in four states on 28 July, in the WA seats of Perth and Fremantle, Longman near Brisbane, Qld, the north-west Tasmanian seat of Braddon and Mayo, in South Australia south-east of Adelaide.
The CEOs of Aged & Community Services Australia, Leading Age Services Australia and The Aged Care Guild said in a joint statement on Monday the by-elections were a missed opportunity for a national conversation on aged care that was instead focused on the popularity of political leaders and their respective tax policies.
The peaks are asking for $675 million a year to close the gap between residential aged care costs and subsidies, additional targeted funding for struggling residential providers in regional and remote areas, another $60 million a year for home care subsidies in response to rising costs and a long-term sustainable aged care funding strategy.
They called on candidates contesting each of the seats in by-elections to understand the scale of the challenge and to advocate for and deliver on the needs of seniors if elected.
“The under-funding of Australia’s aged care system is an urgent issue for every Australian and every community – and should be front and centre of any campaign promising to speak to voters’ concerns about services, jobs and growth,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney, ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow and the Guild CEO Matthew Richter.
Sustainable funding is needed to ensure services are available for the growing number of older Australians relying on residential aged care and further investment is needed to support the 100,000 people in the queue for a home care package, they said.
“While the recent Federal Budget included positive measures such as an additional 14,000 home care places and additional support for palliative care and mental health for people living in residential care, core funding is still the largest issue the sector faces,” LASA CEO Sean Rooney said.
ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said aged care services were an important part of local communities that provided essential care and support and generated jobs and growth.
Aged Care Guild CEO Matt Richter said: “If residential aged care providers are not viable under the current funding levels, it makes it increasingly difficult to invest in new facilities and services.”
“We are calling for candidates to prioritise ensuring a sustainable aged care system delivering the care and services people need and want into the future,” the CEOs said.
The peaks also developed a key issues paper to help candidates understand the key issues.
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