ACCPA’s Pre-Budget recommendations seek short and long-term stability

Published on 20 March 2024 (Last updated on 28 March 2024)

Future sustainability rests on the short-term actions of the Government, according to ACCPA’s Pre-Budget recommendations. [Source: Shutterstock]

Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), the sector’s leading peak body, has shared its aged care recommendations in a pre-budget submission, stating that the upcoming Federal Budget is a chance to ensure the sector survives and flourishes into the future.

Last year’s Federal Budget was one of the strongest for aged care as the Government committed to fully funding the interim 15% pay rise and the implementation of Royal Commission recommendations, improvements to Star Ratings and Quality Indicators.

This year, ACCPA has submitted ten key recommendations to the Government, including continued sustainable funding, regional workforce support and financial relief from State-based taxes. 

We need to make sure our system is ready to not only support older people now, but also in the future. We can’t do that unless we address key issues around workforce, funding and innovation,” ACCPA CEO Tom Symondson said.

“Aged care has been chronically underfunded for decades and we can’t keep going like this. The time is now. With the release of the Aged Care Taskforce’s report last week, we can finally have some confidence for the future of our sector.”

“Those recommendations will take time to bear fruit, and it is incumbent on the government to continue to grow funding to the sector in the meantime or aged care will slip through the cracks before reform can be implemented.”

Mr Symdonson reinforced the need for short-term action by highlighting that half of residential care providers are losing money on each resident and that unsustainability cannot continue.

ACCPA’s Pre-Budget recommendations

  • Fund quality and sustainable aged care services
  • Implement independent pricing determinations for aged care
  • Support increased demand for home care and the transition to the new Support at Home Program
  • Improve access to oral health care for older Australians
  • Address and alleviate additional cost pressures on aged care from State-based taxes
  • Boost the aged care workforce (and others in the health sector and care and support economy) across regional Australia through incentives and housing options
  • Support aged care providers to access and retain migrant workforce
  • Support quality of care for older Australians through innovation and technology transformation
  • Choice for older Australians to age confidently wherever they want to live, and for whatever life and care needs they may have
  • Productive care and support services supported by effective regulation and transparency

Among ACCPA’s recommendations is a call for funding changes aimed at long-term sustainability. Just like the Aged Care Taskforce recommendations, which Mr Symondson was a member of, the peak body would like to see an increased role and influence from consumer contributions towards aged care services.

He said the Government must remain the main funder of aged care services but people who can afford it would contribute more for elements such as accommodation and daily services.

“Currently, aged care providers receive far less to provide accommodation and daily services such as food and cleaning than those services cost. That has led to the huge losses we now see in the sector, the lack of new and refurbished facilities across the country, and the increased threat of closures,” Mr Symondson said.

“Despite significant investments from Government in recent years, the sector is still struggling to keep its head above water. We need a system that supports access for every older person. Everyone should have access to high-quality aged care, regardless of their location, level of need, or financial means. But that means we have to invest.”

Workforce pay rise must be fully funded

Elsewhere, ACCPA urged the Government to fully fund the most recent aged care pay rise announcement, as it did the initial interim 15% increase. But this isn’t the only workforce-related recommendation in their statement.

  • ACCPA called for regional workforce investment such as fully waiving HECS fees for students, compensation for relocation expenses and subsidised student accommodation 
  • A grant program for aged care providers to provide housing for workers with equal investment from Government and providers
  • The funding of a national project with all governments that would create accommodation opportunities for workers, including on Government-owned vacant land
  • Approximately $8 million over three years to establish a sector-led migration advisory service for aged care providers to access and retain their migrant workers

These recommendations focus on both local and migrant workers, and if acted upon, would provide support for aged care workers at all stages of their career. 

“Workforce solutions require more than just filling a job. It’s about the person, their family and the communities they and the aged care provider’s support,” Mr Symondson said.

“We’re advocating for better access to education, improved access to housing for care staff, easier migration routes for overseas workers, and direct funding of targeted aged care workforce programs.”

ACCPA’s Pre-Budget Submission can be viewed on their website.

aged care
Tom Symondson
aged care sustainability
Aged and Community Care Providers Association