Indexation outrage grows

The unions and employers agree – the recently announced increase in Commonwealth funding is not enough.

By Kate Horowitz

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has joined employer groups in expressing concern about the long-term sustainability of the aged care sector. 

ANF federal secretary, Lee Thomas, said the recently announced 1.9 per cent increase in Commonwealth funding does not go far enough to solve the problems of the already under-resourced aged care sector. 

“With Australia’s aged care sector in crisis, this funding allocation will do precious little to address the chronically under-resourced aged care workforce,” Ms Thomas said.

“The ANF is urging the federal government to undertake an urgent funding reform of the sector. The federal government’s latest funding allocation for aged care fails again to close the significant wage gap for aged care nurses and AINs.

“This significant wage gap must be addressed if elderly Australians are to get the quality care they deserve.”

The union, through its ongoing Because We Care campaign, has called on the Gillard government to honour its commitment of fixing Australia’s aged care system in its second term. 

CEO of the independent provider IRT, Nieves Murray, has also expressed outrage at the inadequate indexation of funding for aged care.

“When combined with no additional funding for aged care in the federal budget, current funding for aged care services falls well short of increases in costs for providers.”

Ms Murray said this latest announcement compounds the long-term underfunding of the aged care sector and makes it even less sustainable.

“This increase will do nothing to stop the erosion of community care hours, nothing to help pay adequate wages to our valued staff and nothing to encourage providers to ‘hang in there’ in order to provide quality care services for our ever-increasing aged population,” Ms Murray said. 

“We recognise that the Productivity Commission is looking at funding reform for the aged care sector as part of its inquiry, however we need to sustain the industry in the meantime, so that services can be maintained.

“I am calling on the government to face up to the realities of aged care in this country and increase funding levels, at least in line with the cost of living.”

The 1.9 per cent increase in funding indexation came into effect last week on July 1.

Both the leading peak bodies, Aged Care Association of Australia (ACAA) and Aged Community Services of Australia (ACSA), have already expressed their outrage. Given that the Consumer Price Index rose 3.3 per cent over the last 12 months and the minimum wage increased 3.4 per cent, both peak bodies said providers would struggle to meet rising costs (see AAA article, A slap in the face). 

Anne-Marie Archer, CEO of Aged Care Association Australia WA, said this year’s 1.9 per cent indexation would do little to encourage applications for aged care beds again this year. 

“The continual underfunding year on year will have a devastating impact on future services – as aged care providers must be able to cover their costs and pay their staff appropriately,” Ms Archer said. 

“The PM promised that aged care would be a second term priority and that opportunity is now!”

Tags: acaa, acsa, aged-&-community-services-wa, anf, because-we-care-campaign, funding, indexation, irt, nieves-murray, productivity-commission,

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