The prime minister and the health minister have made a commitment to aged care reform if the ALP wins the election.

Julia Gillard made the announcement at the annual congress of the NSW Nurses’ Association in Randwick.

“If re-elected, further aged care reform will be a second-term priority for my government,” the Ms Gillard said.

Her health and ageing minister, Nicola Roxon echoed the prime minister’s statements, saying a Gillard government would seriously consider the recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s aged care inquiry.

“We will respond quickly to the commission’s recommendations while continuing to meet our commitments to provide better training and support for aged care workers, more aged care places, better access to health services and stronger consumer protections,” she said.

Ms Roxon suggested that a Gillard Government would consider staffing arrangements in residential aged care.

“The Productivity Commission has…been asked to develop options to ensure we have a sufficient and skilled workforce into the future,” she said.

“An important part of the development of future workforce strategies is research that explores how we can better match the right number of staff with the right mix of skills to provide the care people should receive.”

The health minister the government would listen to clients, the community and clinicians in preparing its response to the commission’s inquiry.
But Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA) warned the Productivity Commission’s reforms could take up to seven years to be implemented.

The association’s CEO, Rod Young, said that in the meantime, the new federal government would need to boost the sector’s funding.

“None of this [addresses] the short term plight of the industry,” he said. “The Government’s decision to withdraw the annual 1.75 per cent additional funding for 2010/20111 financial year has been a real kick in the teeth for the industry.”

Mr Young also urged the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, to commit to aged care reform if he won the election.

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