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Labor’s Butler moves on aged care reform

Five aged care bills have been introduced to parliament to support the Gillard government’s $3.7 billion Living Longer Living Better reforms.

Minister for ageing Mark Butler said the reforms would replace an old aged care system, which was designed 25 years ago and was now ill-equipped to meet the needs of retiring baby boomers and their parents.

“The Government’s aged care reform plan will deliver more choice, easier access and better care for older Australians, their families and carers,” Butler said.

The reforms include consumer-directed care packages, $880 million for home care, tailored home care packages to people with dementia, and increased funds for residential aged care and wages.

“This package reflects what older Australians, their families and carers, and aged care providers have told us they wanted, through extensive consultations, along with the valuable input of the Productivity Commission,” Butler said.

Council of the Ageing CEO Ian Yates praised the legislation. “It’s almost 12 months since the LLLB package was announced in April 2012, so this legislation is long-awaited, but very welcome.” COTA is the peak body for more than 500,000 older Australians.

“These reforms will result in lots more in-home care services which support the majority of older people who prefer to stay in their own familiar environments, close to friends and family, for as long as possible,’’ Yates said.

“When the legislation passes we’ll also see older people have more say in the kind of aged care and support services they receive, where they get them and who delivers them,” he said. “For too long, older people and their families have had to take what was on offer whether or not it suited their needs.”

Yates said that while the reforms were not perfect, they were a good first step.

The reforms followed the directions recommended by the Productivity Commission “to develop a system with greater choice and higher quality of service for older Australians, which ought to be their right, not a favour as is too often the case now”, he said.

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