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Anthony Albanese was sworn in as Prime Minister on Monday morning. Picture: David Gray/Getty Images.

What aged care can expect under a Labor government

Aged care reform was a major centrepiece of Labor’s federal election campaign, and is expected to be a key priority of new prime minister Anthony Albanese.

Following his victory, the new leader asserted his pledge to the sector, telling his supporters that “together we can fix the crisis in aged care”.

Among a long line of commitments, Labor has promised to place nurses 24/7 in aged care homes and support a 25 per cent wage increase for staff.

Albanese has pledged to improve sector food standards and to inject more funding into the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Following the election, a number of peak aged care and nursing organisations have made it clear they expect the government to act swiftly on its promises.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), which represents six peak industry bodies, has called on the prime minister to kickstart aged care reform in the next 100 days. 

Labor has not set an official timeline to implement new aged care policies.

“The election has helped focus attention on the need for ambitious action for older Australians and for greater respect and better pay for aged care workers,” a recent AACC statement read.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the new Minister for Aged Care and the whole of government on the transformation needed to deliver better support and care.”

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (AMNF) congratulated the new leader, saying the change represents better outcomes for nurses across the nation.

“We are delighted that we finally have a Federal Government that has a real plan to fix the systemic issues in health and aged care,” said AMNF federal secretary Annie Butler.

“Mr Albanese and his team, including Mark Butler and Clare O’Neil, have already listened to the ANMF and have committed to working with us to develop a health workforce which is ready and able to respond to Australia’s health needs.”

While Labor’s ministerial portfolio is yet to be finalised, it is expected Labor’s shadow health minister Mark Butler will be the new health minister

It has also been speculated that Shadow Minister for Older Australians Claire O’Neill will become the new aged care minister. 

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has said that Labor has also promised to include an oral health component into training for aged care workers.

Currently, the peak dental body is pushing for a Seniors Dental Benefits Schedule, which would provide publicly and privately funded oral care for older Australians who can’t afford it. 

“Labor has said it understands the importance of oral health to elderly Australians, and acknowledges the relevant recommendation of the Aged Care Royal Commission’s Final Report,” said ADA president Mark Hutton.

“Further, they wrote to us saying that an Albanese Labor Government would engage with relevant stakeholders, including the ADA, to address issues with aged care vocational and university education programs.”

On top of this, National Seniors Australia said the Albanese government offered "new hope" for older Australians.

Chief advocate Ian Henschke said he looked forward to directly working with the new government to form better aged care and retirement policies.

"We have had productive discussions on this issue with Labor while in opposition," Henschke said.

“But it’s now time to turn that talk into action and I will be seeking discussions on taking this forward."

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