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Treasurer Jim Chalmers will announce the federal government's budget in May. Picture: Gary Ramage Newswire/News Corp Australia.

ACCPA asks for changes to funding system

Australia's aged care providers have asked to address workforce and worsening operating losses in the upcoming federal government's budget.

Today, the Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) published a 15-page pre-budget paper, naming workforce and sustainable funding as the sector's main priorities.

"We need a considered debate on how we fund aged care into the future, including the possibility of consumer co-contributions for those who can afford it," ACCPA chief Tom Symondson said.

"We must protect access for those who can least afford to pay for their care while supporting a sustainable aged care sector."

Symondson said Labor could resolve the funding pain points by enforcing an indexation boost for all forms of aged care.

In 2021, the Royal Commission into Aged Care and Quality recommended that funding should be updated every July to match the annual change in Consumer Index Price (CPI).

ACCPA estimated that the industry needed indexation from 1 July 2023 to fully cover the CPI, which is currently set at 7.8 per cent.

"Seven out of ten aged care providers are operating at a loss, and the situation appears to be worsening," Symondson said.

"We must ensure we have a long-term sustainable funding system to improve the lives of all older Australians."

The peak body pushed for an $853 million injection into the Home Care Program to free up the waiting list ahead of the new in-home care program due to launch in July 2024.

Currently, older Australians are estimated to wait between three to six months before receiving approval for a home care package. 

Symondson said the government also needed to confirm additional home care packages past July 2023.

"We need to ensure all home care package recipients receive a package at their approved level ahead of the commencement of the new program," he said.

ACCPA continued to push for competitive pay for aged care workers and nurses.

The peak recommended that the government raise wages for aged care nurses to line up their salaries with public hospitals. 

Symondson said Labor should cover the on-costs of the Work Value Case wage increase.

The government promised to fund direct aged care workers' pay rise, where the first 10 per cent pay rise is expected in July this year and another 5 per cent 12 months later.

"We are committed to a collaborative approach, working in partnership with the government and the industry to face aged care's challenges," Symondson said.

"Our older people are to be cherished and supported as they age. We want to work to ensure they can live their best lives. It's what they deserve."

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