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ACSA forum puts workforce front and centre

How will Australia get the staff to look after the elderly population? Should migration be increased? Should there be an increase in spending on education and support? Should more money be put into developing good leadership in the sector?

These were some of the questions senior individuals within the sector discussed at Aged and Community Services Australia’s recent national policy forum. The forum looked to delve into the challenges consumers and providers will face and where government needs to be influenced.

ACSA chief executive John Kelly said: “Out of everything, the biggest challenge for the community – that’s ourselves, consumers, politicians [and so on] – is the workforce.”

Other areas that were discussed during the forum surrounded housing and independent living and issues related to community care.

Kelly said better housing was a big challenge. “It’s caught up in the state, federal and local issues that we all get frustrated with,” he said. He added that much time was spent discussing the challenges surrounding the notion that people want to be cared for in their home, from legal liability issues that surround going into other people’s homes through to logistics and planning and cost-effectiveness. “Sometimes you can spend a lot of money just travelling to someone’s house and to try to work out who’s paying for all that gets quite complex.”

Next year, one area that ACSA will look at is tax. “The governments already highlighted that they’ve got taxation on the agenda,” Kelly said. “One of the things that we’re going to do in more depth is to look at what are the limitations of the tax pool in terms of paying for care in this sector and what does that mean for consumers.

“How are consumers going to pay for this if most people have their wealth tied up in their principle residence? How are they going to tap into that physical asset to help pay for their care? They’re all challenges but they’re ones that aren’t going to go away.”

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