Providers throughout rural Victoria have sent a clear message to the major political parties this coming election- do not forget older people living in rural and remote communities in the conversation about aged care reform.

More than 100 rural members of Aged & Community Care Victoria (ACCV) recently united, via a series of three separate meetings, to urge all political parties to commit to immediate and specific aged care policy for all older Victorians.

The campaign represents a landmark move for the organisation, which travelled to three key areas around the state for the first time ever to rally support for the rural cause.

CEO of ACCV, Gerard Mansour, said that this election his association wanted to focus on older adults within rural and remote communities, as they were too often overlooked by governments.

“Aged care services in rural communities across Victoria are already struggling after a decade of under-funding,” said Mr Mansour.

“The government hasn’t listened to the pleas of our industry, and we are disappointed the smaller rural communities are still being overlooked. The time for action is now.”

During the meetings the collective, which represents more than 90 per cent of Victoria’s aged and community care industry, resolved to urge the government to commit to providing flexible payment options for accommodation (including refundable accommodation deposits for high care) and to remove the distinction between high and low care–both measures which would be at no cost to the government.

The group also called on the government to create a new funding model for rural and remote services and for the creation of one community care program to provide a range of flexible funding levels to meet individual and changing client needs.

Mr Mansour said that although solutions for the industry as a whole are desperately needed, specific attention should be paid to rural and special needs groups.

“These are two areas that require urgent attention,” he said.

“…All the elements which we talk about aged care are exacerbated in the rural communities.

“The bonds are much smaller. The average bond for a provider is usually around $200,000 but it is $80,000 for rural providers. There are also less financial resources and more workforce constraints.”

ACCV representatives will be present at the aged care election debate in Melbourne tomorrow in an attempt to bring further attention to the rural issue.

“We hope that it gets on the agenda tomorrow. But, if not tomorrow then we would like to get their commitment on these areas sometime between now and the election.”

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