More than 80 per cent of voters have identified aged care as a key issue in deciding how they’ll cast their ballot at the upcoming federal election.

A survey of almost 900 voters commissioned by BaptistCare NSW & ACT and conducted by YouGov shows aged care policy is an ‘important issue’ for 83 per cent of Australian voters.

Three in 10 Australian voters say aged care policy will be a ‘very important issue’ in their decision, with older voters aged over 50 likely to say it will be very important. It’s also rated as important by 20 per cent of those under 34.

BaptistCare CEO Charles Moore said the pandemic has highlighted and accelerated systemic issues in aged care and Australians want action, not words, after two decades of reviews.

 “You don’t have to be an aged care worker to know that we have never worked harder than we have in the last two years,” he said. “Our sector is underfunded and it’s impacting both aged care workers and the most vulnerable in our society, and voters are seeing this too. Growing public interest in these issues means it is not the time for empty promises.”

Confidence drops

Mr Moore said the recommendations of the royal commission have not yet been implemented and Australians are losing confidence in the ability of governments to provide affordable, quality care as each day goes by.

The YouGov polling found that almost half (45 per cent) of Australians have become less confident in the aged care sector in the past year, with the crisis in confidence worse among those living outside the five capital cities.

Charles Moore

“The research suggests this issue of confidence is more pointed in regional areas than in capital cities – making it vital to securing the all-important regional vote,” Mr Moore said.

A whopping 96 per cent of those polled believe there are important actions a new government should take in relation to aged care, with more funding and increased provider accountability topping the list.

“The number one thing any government can do to resolve issues plaguing the industry is to increase funding, and more specifically to fund any increase in aged care workers’ wages recommended by the Fair Work Commission,” Mr Moore said.

Key findings

  • Eight in 10 Australians (83 per cent) say aged care policy will be an important issue in deciding how they will vote with three in ten (29 per cent) saying it will be a very important issue in their decision
  • More than four in ten (45 per cent) Australians say over the last 12 months they have become less confident in the aged care sector, while 17 per cent say they have become more confident
  • The majority (96 per cent) of Australians believe that there are important actions the new government should take with respect to the aged care sector following the federal election
  • The top three most important actions identified are to increase government funding to the sector to ensure quality aged care remains sustainable (24 per cent), to increase care staff to resident ratios (21 per cent) and to increase accountability of aged care providers (20 per cent)
  • One in three Australians (32 per cent) think the aged care system is 50 per cent or more government funded, while 17 per cent who think the government funds 40% or less of the aged care system and half (52 per cent) are unsure of the level of government funding. On average, amongst those who could provide an answer, the government is thought to provide just over half (53 per cent) of the funding for the aged care system
  • When presented with a list of occupations, Australians are more likely to rank hospital workers (51 per cent) and aged care workers (18 per cent) ahead of accountants (10 per cent), builders (6 per cent), sanitation workers (4 per cent), landscapers (2 per cent) and bar and restaurant workers (2 per cent) as the sector they think should be most highly paid.

This story originally appeared on Community Care Review

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