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Social leave rule waived until 2021

Earlier this year, many older Australians made the decision to leave aged care facilities and move back into the community to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 – and now they won’t need to move back at the end of this month to avoid an extra bill. 

Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck announced over the weekend that the government had extended its COVID-19 emergency leave arrangements. 

The provision meant that residents could go over their annual social leave entitlement of 52 days without facing the costs associated with the subsequent removal of the government residential care subsidy for the additional days away from the home. 

It was due to finish at the end of this month but has now been extended until 30 June 2021. 

Colbeck said: “Many permanent residential aged care residents want to temporarily relocate with family to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19, and the Australian Government supports that choice where appropriate. 

“By introducing this arrangement, we are giving senior Australians the option of staying with family for the duration of the emergency, without the extra worry about using or exhausting their normal social leave entitlements.” 

The provision had bipartisan support when it was introduced in May. 

At the time, shadow aged care minister Julie Collins said: “The consumer, the resident or their family, is required to pay the government subsidy of $230 per resident per day to save their place in the residential aged-care facility that they are taking leave from, so that they can go back into that facility when the pandemic is over. 

“For many families and consumers this is a cost that they’re unable to sustain.” 

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