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Reference Group for Community Care Review

Monday, 23rd June 2003 at 1:06 pm
Staff Reporter
The members of the Federal Government’s Reference Group for the Review of Community Care have been announced by Federal Minister for Ageing Kevin Andrews as the debate begins on issues of change!

Monday, 23rd June 2003
at 1:06 pm
Staff Reporter



Reference Group for Community Care Review
Monday, 23rd June 2003 at 1:06 pm

The members of the Federal Government’s Reference Group for the Review of Community Care have been announced by Federal Minister for Ageing Kevin Andrews as the debate begins on issues of change!

Speaking at a National Community Care Forum convened by Aged Care Services Australia and the Myer Foundation, Andrews says there is agreement across all levels of government, the sector and the community about the need to reform the community care system.

The Reference Group aims to provide advice to the Federal Government about establishing an easily accessible, streamlined and cost-effective community care system.

Mr Andrews released a blueprint for a new community care system, entitled A New Strategy for Community Care, back in March.

Members of the Reference Group are:
Ms Irene Gibbons, National Chief Executive Officer, Carers Australia
Mr Glenn Rees, Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer’s Australia
Mr Paul Sadler, Chief Executive Officer, Aged and Community Services NSW/ACT
Mr David Deans, Chief Executive Officer, National Seniors Association
Ms Jeanette Antrum, Secretary, Australian Meals on Wheels Association
Dr Sue Kurrle, Geriatrician, Hornsby Hospital
Mrs Nieves Murray, Regional Manager North District, Illawarra Retirement Trust NSW
Mr Ian Hardy, Chief Executive Officer, Helping Hand Aged Care
Mr Stephen Jolly, Community Care Director, Churches of Christ Homes WA
Mr Peter Sparrow, Manager South and East Metropolitan, Commonwealth Carer Respite Centre
Mr Peter Johnstone, Chief Executive Officer, City of Boroondara
Mr Ross Bradshaw, Executive Director, Silver Chain Nursing Association
Mr Francis Tapim, Chief Executive Officer, Magani Malu Kes
Ms Sue Egan, Convenor, Australian Caucus of Disability Organisations

Baillieu Myer says Australia’s fragmented system of community care for older or disabled people is in a mess. Fixing it is one of the most important things this country can do to prepare for the ageing of its population over the next two decades.

Baillieu Myer is co-founder and director of the Myer Foundation and spoke at the national forum in Canberra.

Myer says there are too many different government programs, too many different rules and procedures, and there is too little money for the community care system to meet people’s needs.

He says access to services is dependent on where people live, planning of new or expanded services lacks co-ordination, and much effort is wasted on shifting responsibility from one level of government to another.

He says a large part of this mess is due to the fact that responsibility for funding and administration of community care is split between the Commonwealth and the states.

In the Myer Foundation’s 2020: A Vision for Aged Care in Australia he recommended that, over time, administrative responsibility for all aged care be transferred to the states, with the Commonwealth’s role being confined to the important task of national policy development.

The Foundation also suggested some interim steps: pooling funds at the regional level; and at the very least improving communication and co-operation between the Commonwealth and state levels of government.

Myer says aged care services are available in our community but they are in short supply. There is a shortage of workers, and they have a poor pay and career structure. The shortage of resources is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of effort is wasted and dispersed because the services are funded by a multitude of different Commonwealth and state programs. Each of these has its own rules and requirements, confusing consumers and limiting their choice of care, as well as adding to the high administrative cost of the providers of these services.

More importantly, he adds, there is little co-ordination between these formal services and the assistance provided by family members, who at present provide most of this care.

He says the call for reform to community care is growing louder – and there are some encouraging signs that the call has been heard. The discussion paper that suggests some initial steps for tidying up some of the present arrangements, but does not offer new money for the great backlog of need for more services and more care. And it does not make the breakthrough of transferring administrative responsibility to the states.

Myer concludes that nothing will be achieved if community care reform simply becomes another political football.

The Minister says the consultation paper A New Strategy for Community Care, sets out a blueprint for a community care system to support older Australians in their own homes.

He says the Federal Government supports 17 different community care programs with total funding of $1.2 billion and total aged care funding has increased from $3 billion when the Howard Government came to office in 1996 to a projected $6 billion in 2003-04.

Andrews says the consultation paper builds on many successful initiatives undertaken by state and territory governments over the past five years and the increases in funding provided at Commonwealth level.

For example, funding for the Home and Community Care Program, which provides services in people’s own homes, has risen by more than 70 per cent since 1995-96.

If you would like an electronic copy of the consultation paper A New Strategy for Community Care just send us an e-mail to probono@probonoaustralia.com.au.

If you would like to comment on the Community Care Review join our On-Line Forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.

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