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Senate supports increased aged care funding

Greens call for the government to take immediate action to relieve the financial stress faced by aged care organisations.

The Senate has supported a Greens motion urging the Government to address the widening gap in funding for Australia’s aged care sector.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens spokesperson for health and ageing said the recent increase in the Commonwealth aged care subsidy of just 1.7 per cent failed to even match the increased consumer price index figure of 2.8 per cent for the provision of aged care services.

“The Senate vote makes it clear that the government must take immediate action to relieve the financial stress being faced by many aged care organisations,” Siewert.

“The sector is facing a constant barrage of cost increases, the funding gap is widening every day, yet federal assistance is not being adjusted accordingly.

The Greens called on the government to restore the 2 per cent conditional adjustment payment as an interim measure to address the crisis in aged care- a move which received the backing of the Senate on 15 November.

Welcoming the motion, Aged and Community Services Australia’s (ACSA) CEO, Greg Mundy, said the announcement by the Productivity

The announcement by the Productivity Commission – also on15 November – that its interim report and final recommendations would be delayed by several months, adds further weight to the call for increased subsidies, said Greg Mundy, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia.

“We understand that a report of this magnitude will form the basis of any reforms to be undertaken by government. However, further delays in implementing fundamental change to ensure choice, access and sustainability in aged care requires the government to act on funding without delay,” Mundy said.

“ACSA calls on the government to heed Senator Siewert’s motion and the Senate’s vote in keeping with its commitment to make aged care a priority in this term of government.”

ANF federal secretary Lee Thomas said nurses and assistants in nursing would welcome the news but there would be an expectation that any increase in funding consider their plight as the lowest paid sector of the Australian nursing workforce.

“The Senate has recognised the discrepancy in current funding levels and the CPI which is good news for providers,” Thomas said.

“What we need to also acknowledge is that nurses and assistants in nursing who care for some of our most vulnerable citizens are paid, in many cases, a whopping 30 per cent less than their public sector counterparts.”

Thomas said any future funding increases in the sector must include transparency and should be tied to improved wages and conditions for nursing and AIN staff.

The Green’s motion also highlighted the blow-out in electricity and utility costs, which have increased 18.8 per cent for aged care service providers in recent times, said Siewert.

“Such increases dramatically impact an organisation’s ability to remain viable, retain staff and utilise their full quota of allocated aged care places.

“The restoration of the conditional adjustment payment is a necessary first step to keep aged care services afloat and should be followed by systemic reform.”

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