No New Funding for Aged Care
11 May 2011 at 5:29 pm
The Federal Budget has ignored calls for modest increases in subsidies and left aged care in limbo, according to the peak body for Australia’s Not for Profit aged care service providers.
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) Acting CEO Pat Sparrow says funding for critical aged care services remained unchanged despite appeals for modest increases in subsidies in the midst of rising costs and greater demand.
Sparrow says the aged care industry is putting the government on notice that 2012 must be the aged care budget.
She says this year’s bid for funding sought to maintain services’ viability and some level of growth in the lead up to implementation of reforms proposed by the Productivity Commission.
Sparrow says the aged care providers’ claim for $330 million, comprising a 1.75% care subsidy for residential and community care and a $10 daily increase in accommodation charges for high-care residents, is a small price to ensure vital aged care services.
She says no new funding means those providers will continue to struggle to deliver optimum services to frail older Australians and will again be hampered in plans to meet increasing consumer demand.
Last week Fair Work Australia ruled that aged care workers under an award are able to negotiate for higher wages – while the two thirds of aged care workers under an existing enterprise bargaining agreement miss the chance to negotiate a better deal.
Despite the case largely failing on its aims of providing a pay rise for aged care workers, Aged and Community Services Australia says a pay rise for the one third of workers not on an enterprise bargaining agreement threatens to further undermine the sector if it is not funded to pay higher wages.
Sparrow says only 40% of aged care providers are operating in the black, hours of community care are continuing to fall and aged care facilities are not being built.
Sparrow says the good news for aged care under the budget was the continuation of the increased viability supplement for residential care, extended to homes under extreme pressure, totalling $16 million, and aged care being identified as a high priority under new workforce initiatives to address skills shortages and training.
Tabling the Budget in parliament, Treasurer Wayne Swan said the government’s new work bonus means that seniors can now receive an extra $125 per week of earned income before their pensions are affected.