Federal Budget: What stakeholders are hoping for

After months of speculation, aged services stakeholders will finally see what the Federal Budget 2014-15 holds for the sector when it is handed down by the Treasurer Joe Hockey on Tuesday evening.


After months of speculation and debate, persistent government commentary about the need for cuts to public spending, and recent stark economic warnings from the Commission of Audit, aged care stakeholders will finally see what the Federal Budget 2014-15 holds for the sector when it is handed down by the Treasurer Joe Hockey on Tuesday evening.

Australian Ageing Agenda asked a range of stakeholders: What are you most hopeful for? Here are their responses:

(You can also read Australian Ageing Agenda’s previous coverage on the pre-Budget submissions from various stakeholders, as well as our coverage of the Commission of Audit recommendations and how stakeholders reacted to it.)

Adjunct Professor John Kelly, CEO, Aged & Community Services Australia: “ACSA has asked the government through its Commission of Audit process and Budget preparation for the quarantining of aged care funding, further reductions in red tape and money from the Workforce Supplement redirected to the Viability Supplement for Rural and Remote aged care services and for training of aged care workers.”

Patrick Reid, CEO, Leading Age Services Australia: “LASA hopes that the budget recognises the age services industry as an area of high growth in need of considerable support rather than starving it at such a critical time. As the peak body for the aged care industry, LASA acknowledges the need for fiscal responsibility and is prepared to continue to lead the industry to work smarter and reduce red tape, provided our most vulnerable are protected. LASA believes that the Abbott government understands that the proposed Commission of Audit removal of the payroll tax supplementation is another attack on workforce development and planning for the industry and should not be pursued. Aged care has already borne the brunt of funding cuts such as the $1.1 billion in funding for workforce and removal of indexation from care in 2012 by the Labor government. We are hopeful that 8 months after the Abbott Government gave assurances on a more equitable distribution of workforce funding we will see this released back to industry after being caught in the budget process.”

Derek McMillan, CEO, Australian Unity Retirement Living: “Just as CDC home care packages were piloted before full implementation, I would like to see that there was an allocation of packages in the budget for a pilot of choice of provider. That is, package recipients are allocated the funding to be utilised through approved provider(s), the choice of which the client controls.”

Michael O’Neill, chief executive, National Seniors: “Innovative employment initiatives for older Australians.”

Louis Dudley, managing director, Bupa Care Services Australia: “We urge the government not to change current arrangements around payroll tax (as suggested by the Commission of Audit). Current arrangements were built on a desire to create competitive neutrality and this should not be eroded. The industry requires security of funding. We hope for a return to appropriate levels of funding for ACFI i.e. CPI. We would also like to see the $1.1 billion Workforce Compact budget returned to the wider pool of aged care funding, as suggested by PM.”

Robyn Batten, executive director, Blue Care: “My budget wish is for funding for rural and remote services which enables them to be sustainable.”

Dr Yvonne Luxford, CEO, Palliative Care Australia: We received the news yesterday that all National Palliative Care Programs have been funded for a further six months, which is fantastic news. We hope that the Budget will include capacity to maintain and improve these important quality and educational programs into the future. It’s no secret that this is going to be a tough Budget, and we believe a really important initiative for the government to take forward is to ask the Productivity Commission to undertake a clear economic analysis of the financial benefits of palliative care. There is a lot of international evidence that palliative care not only improves the quality of life for people living with a life limiting illness, their carers and families but it also reduces pressure on health budgets through, for example, reductions in laboratory and intensive care costs, and decreases in hospital admissions, emergency department visits, the use of outpatient consultation services and residential care facility admissions. We really need Australian evidence in this regard. There are also a number of things that can be done at little or no cost to the health budget which have enormous potential to improve access to palliative care services, such as embedding palliative care education across the curricula of all health professionals through a Palliative Care Workforce Strategy and working with states and territories to implement nationally consistent advance care planning legislation.”

Professor Perminder Sachdev, co-director, the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing at UNSW: “We hope that the government will keep its promise of $200 million additional funding for dementia research, and will involve the leading dementia researchers in Australia in the decision regarding the disbursement of these funds. We would like the research efforts propelled by these funds to be sustainable in the longer term, and for the funds to help catapult Australia to the forefront of dementia research internationally.”

Sandra Hills, CEO, Benetas: “I’m hoping that the Living Longer Living Better (Healthy Life, Better Ageing) reforms are properly funded, including support for aged care organisations to transition appropriately to the ‘new world order’ and meet the new requirements ensuring that disruption to service provision is kept to a minimum. I’m hopeful that organisations are adequately reimbursed from government for the “costs of care”. We received no CPI in 2013-14 and previous amounts of around 1.5 – 1.7 per cent are not sustainable. Projects and initiatives, such as the Benetas-led SALLY project, that focus on supporting older people to access appropriate health services, should be funded adequately. I’m also hopeful that a commitment is made to support workforce planning, including career development and staff training and support, and that the $1.2 million workforce supplement originally promised, is allocated appropriately. And, I’m hopeful that more is done to respond to current and emerging respite needs, both in the home and facility based. There needs to be a greater focus on initiatives in this area, particularly to better understand the needs of carers who wish to continue in paid employment and/or commence paid employment.”

Glenn Rees, CEO, Alzheimer’s Australia: “We hope that the important services and supports already in place for people with dementia will not be in the firing line in the search for savings. We are looking for reassurance that the government is going to keep their election promise to both implement the Aged Care Reforms and to build on the reforms. We are particularly hopeful for outcomes in three areas. First, a commitment of the full implementation of the 2012 Aged Care Reforms, including the critical initiatives to achieve timely diagnosis and improved dementia care in hospitals, which are a first in Australian public health policy. Second, an investment of $15 million over the next three years as a first critical step to make Australia the world’s first dementia-friendly country. And third, a trial conducted by Federal Government within existing funding into the cashing out of the value of respite services to enable family carers to purchase the services they need. Respite care is a critical support for family carers and provides important social engagement for people with dementia. It needs to be available when and where it is needed. Alzheimer’s Australia is also eager to see how the government will utilise the $1.2 billion workforce supplement which was a key component of the Aged Care reform package. In our view, it is imperative that this funding is directed towards improving the quality of the aged care system.”

DON’T MISS: Australian Ageing Agenda’s Budget coverage in next Wednesday’s newsletter 


Tags: acsa, australian unity retirement living, benetas, blue-care, budget, commission of audit, derek mcmillan, john-kelly, lasa, michael-oneill, national-seniors, palliative-care-australia, patrick-reid, perminder-sachdev, robyn-batten, sandra-hills, unsw, yvonne-luxford,

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