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Rachel Siewert. Photo: Kym Smith, News Corp Australia

Greens pledge $8.5 billion for aged care

The Greens are pledging 50,000 extra home care packages over three years at a cost of close to $5.5 billion to improve the aged care sector.

This will be paired with $3 billion towards improving worker conditions, including the promise of a 15 per cent pay increase. The move would help increase the amount of care residents in aged care facilities receive, as well as implement staff to resident ratios.

The policy would be funded by reversing the coalition’s corporate and personal income tax cuts.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert said the plan will help older Australians access high quality aged care and improve conditions for aged care workers.

“It’s been clear for years now that there are significant issues within aged care and for too long aged care has been put in the too-hard basket,” she said on Tuesday.

“The Greens understand we need change and a comprehensive plan of how we are going to care for older Australians.”

Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney said while the peak body might disagree on some of the details of that plan, “the key point is that we agree on the need for a better resourced system to be able to deliver more hours of care, and to be able to fund better paid and more highly trained staff”.

Rooney also singled out Siewert, saying she has been a strong advocate for older Australians and the aged care sector.

Aged & Community Services Australia welcomed the commitment to additional home care packages and added it’s equally important to ensure an older person who needs support doesn’t have to wait longer than three months to get the care they need.

Dementia Australia said the Greens’ approach to aged care was “human rights based”.

The peak’s chief executive, Maree McCabe, commended the the party’s pledges to increase home care packages, the hours of staff to resident contact, and to give attention to the numbers of staff and ratios.

The Greens also plan to target the overuse of chemical and physical restraints in aged care facilities.

McCabe said: “The focus on reducing the overuse and misuse of chemical and physical restraint aligns with Dementia Australia’s long-held position and this must be a priority for all parties.”

ACSA said action to reduce the inappropriate use of chemical and physical restraint needs to go beyond reporting and be a part of a “broader solution that supports the important and necessary partnership between the GPs who prescribe, the pharmacists and aged care providers”.

“This could include progressively rolling out evidence-based best practice including outcomes from projects like RedUSE,” ACSA said.

McCabe said Dementia Australia looks forward to hearing from all political parties in the lead up to the coming Federal election how they plan to elevate issues relating to dementia.

Rooney said that overall, the Greens’ commitment is a clear indication of the significant levels of Federal Government investment required by the sector to deliver the quality care and services older Australians deserve and to meet the expectations of the community.

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