FEDERAL BUDGET DELIVERS MIXED PACKAGE FOR OLDER AUSTRALIANS

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FEDERAL BUDGET DELIVERS MIXED PACKAGE FOR OLDER AUSTRALIANS

October 8, 2020

The Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria today said that the 2020 Federal Budget was a mixed package for older Australians but far more investment was needed to have the best possible housing, care and support for elders.

“We cannot wait for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to deliver its final report in February 2021. We need to act now, and we need the Government to implement the recommendations in the recently released COVID-19 report,” OCAV CEO Phillip Wohlers said.

Aged care

OCAV welcomes the additional $8 billion investment in aged care but says it is merely a down payment on what needs to happen.

“The Royal Commission has highlighted deep structural problems with funding for aged care, and a major transformation is required to ensure that aged care is fit for the future,” Mr Wohlers said.

However, OCAV welcomes the following initiatives:

  • $29.8 million to implement the Serious Incident Response Scheme to provide better protection for residents in aged care;
  • $91.6 million over four years to create an independent assessment service for the new residential care assessment and funding tool;
  • $35.6 million over two years to extend the Business Improvement Fund, to help restructure residential aged care.

Home care packages

The $1.6 billion commitment to an extra 23,000 Home Care Packages is vital to help older Australians age in place, raising the number of packages to 180,000, but it clearly does not go far enough to keep up with the demand, according to OCAV.

The current wait time for packages at assessed levels is two years or more which is not good enough for a wealthy country such as Australia. There is still no commitment and plan to get waiting times down to 30 days and ensure no one is prematurely forced into residential care.

Dementia

We welcome the $11.3 million for expert psychosocial supports, however the estimated 460,000 Australians living with dementia continue to miss out due to the lack of focus on dementia.

OCAV is concerned by this given the many stories highlighted to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety about dementia and the need for dementia-specific targets in workforce training and education, regulation and quality.

“We have called for specific investment in quality dementia care, and that has been overlooked in this budget,” Mr Wohlers said.

Social and affordable housing

All calls for a social housing-led economy recovery were ignored which is a missed opportunity, according to OCAV.

The organisation is part of a national campaign calling for investment in social housing to create 60,000 jobs over four years, build 30,000 properties and renovate 100,000 to decent standards.

However, OCAV welcomed the additional $1 billion of low cost finance loans to support the construction of affordable housing, taking the total concessional finance that has been made available to community housing providers to $3 billion.

OCAV welcomed too the abolition of Capital Gains tax on ‘granny flat’ arrangements but stressed that there must be formal legal agreements in place to prevent elder abuse.

Pensions

The additional pension supplements of $250 in December and $250 in March 2021 is a positive step at a time when the indexation formula does not deliver an increase in the pension rate.

OCAV is concerned, however, that there is no increase in the inadequate Commonwealth Rent Assistance maximum rate. It also urges the government to release the results of the Retirement Income Review to see what is working, what is not, and what needs to be put in place to strengthen pensions and superannuation.

 

Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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