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Funding rundown: ATSI aged care, senior advocacy, dementia projects

Minister for aged care and Indigenous health Ken Wyatt has announced a stack of new funding measures for the aged care sector this week. Here, we detail the key announcements and the industry’s reaction.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support

The government is boosting its aged care program that aims to help deliver flexible, non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate aged care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in regional, rural and remote communities, with more than $3.7 million in one-off grants.

Wyatt said the grants, under the Australian Government’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program, were in addition to the $33.5 million the program provides annually for service delivery.

“The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program is designed specifically to improve services to elderly indigenous people, mainly in remote locations,” Wyatt said. “These grants will provide practical assistance to 18 aged care providers to improve the lives of their elderly care residents.

He said the grants will help providers ensure buildings are appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural activities, customs, ceremonies and family visits and offer the to refurbish or upgrade living spaces for clients or staff, buy equipment for kitchens or laundries and fulfill medical or security requirements.

Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) chief executive Pat Sparrow said the delivery of aged care in remote and rural areas has a higher cost base compared to the rest of Australia and is driven by the unique demands of those areas. “Additional support to aged care providers in these locations working with one of the most vulnerable groups in Australia is much needed,” Sparrow said.

National approach to senior advocacy

Wyatt also announced $25.7 million to the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) to deliver the new National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP).

He said OPAN would receive the funding over the next three years to deliver advocacy services to older Australians through its network of nine service delivery organisations across the nation.

The announcement follows the development of the draft National Aged Care Advocacy Framework, which will underpin OPAN’s advocacy efforts through the redesigned NACAP.

“Moving to a single provider model will allow the NACAP to build on its experience and expand its skills base,” Wyatt said. “Through its extensive national presence, OPAN will ensure strong advocacy services continue.”

COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said advocacy groups have a crucial role to play in ensuring older Australians are fully aware of the broad suite of rights they are afforded as both citizens and as consumers.

“This is now a genuinely national program that should in the near future see better outcomes for aged care consumers everywhere across Australia,” Yates said. “The NACP must adopt a collaborative operative approach, constantly engaging with seniors organisations like COTA, as well as service providers, stakeholders and older Australians to understand what the industry is doing well, and what areas need improving.”

Grant funding on the table

The government released $34 million in funding grants to support innovation in dementia care and other aged care services.

Wyatt said the projects to be funded are cutting-edge and will strengthen the capacity of the aged care sector to respond to consumer-directed care and the impact of dementia.

He said 42 projects will receive grants, with the focus on six priority areas. “Supporting these projects will identify barriers that restrict access and choice and help ensure the special needs of consumers from diverse backgrounds are met,” Wyatt said.

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