Tuesday’s federal budget directed $49.5 million dollars to training for aged care workers despite repeated industry calls to increase wages.
The Morrison Government's total forecast spending on aged care for 2022-23 has increased by less than 1 per cent compared to last year, according to the budget papers.
New funding has been put towards financing 15,000 clinical placements and training courses for new and existing aged care workers for January 2023.
The treasurer also doled out $340 million to embed pharmacy services in residential care to improve medication management.
AACC chief executive officer Sean Rooney said the budget failed to “address the structural deficiencies” exposed by the Royal Commission.
“The combined forces of relatively low wages in our sector alongside the rising cost of living pressures are putting further demands on an already precious and fatigued workforce and causing workers to leave,” he told Aged Care Insite.
“If we get three things right: workforce, funding and performance – that's the solution, that's the foundation on which we can transform the aged care system,” he said.
“Unfortunately in the budget we've just had, it doesn't hit all of those areas.”
Aged care workers are still waiting on a response from the Fair Work Commission for a pay rise which was put forward in November 2020.
They’re advocating for a 25 per cent increase, roughly 5 dollars an hour, which would bump up their minimum hourly wage from $23.09 to $28.86.
“People have rewarding professions in our sector, but when the cost of living is biting, they have to make choices," said Rooney.
Most of this year’s budget reiterated measures from the government’s five-year $17.7 billion dollar reform package released in 2021.
This year 40,000 home care packages, 34,000 additional training places, 7,000 new personal care workers and 8,400 respite services are expected to be rolled out.
The Basic Daily Fee supplement, costing $3.4bn over four years, has also raised concerns over transparency.
Associate Professor of Nursing at Charles Sturt University Maree Bernoth said that with the current workforce shortages, the quality of food will not improve regardless of extra cash.
“We're still receiving photos from families of the poor quality food," she said.
“The government continues to give money to aged care but there's no transparency about how that money is spent,” she said.
“We can’t monitor because we can’t see where the money is going.”
As part of the government’s investment in a new funding tool for residential care will come into effect starting October 1 2022.
President of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) Scott Willis said the sector has been “left in the dark” about the new AN-AAC model.
“We need to know what the new funding tool is specifically going to be funding,” he said.
“The government has really lost an opportunity to tell the country that health care is really important. They really missed the mark.”
The budget also allotted $1.5bn for a one-off $250 payment for nearly 6 million pensioners living in Australia.
A fuel excise cut to all petrol and diesel has reduced the 44.2 cent per litre of fuel by half for the next six months.
COTA’s CEO Ian Yates welcomed measures to ease the rise in living costs for older people.
“I think it [the $250] is not insignificant at all. It's close to 10$ a week. It would certainly help with costs as will the fuel excise," Yates said.
“Waiting another six months for indexation to catch up to the price hikes being experienced now would not have been a viable option for many people living from pension payment to pension payment.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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