Aged care receives a $2.2 billion Budget boost; Aged Care Act gets its start date

Published on 14 May 2024 (Last updated on 21 May 2024)

The Labor Government has dropped the 2024 Budget with a multi-billion investment for aged care. [Twitter]

The Federal Government has dropped the 2024 Budget tonight with aged care receiving a $2.2 billion boost to deliver aged care reforms and continue implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Although the funding does appear to be less ambitious than recent Labor budgets, it includes funding for the Fair Work Commission’s additional aged care pay rise, coming in 2025, and an additional 24,100 Home Care Packages. 

Aged care reform

The bulk of the aged care sector’s funding  – a whopping $1.2 billion over five years – is set aside for “critical digital systems to support the introduction of the new Aged Care Act and contemporary IT systems”. This comes as the Government announced it will defer the commencement date of the new Aged Care Act to July 1, 2025.

Additionally, funding includes:

  • $110.9 million over four years from 2024–25 to increase the regulatory capability of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission as part of the Government’s response to the Final Report of the Capability Review of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, and to implement a new aged care regulatory framework from 1 July 2025
  • $37.0 million over two years from 2024–25 to reduce wait times for the My Aged Care Contact Centre due to increased demand and service complexity
  • $30.4 million over three years from 2024–25 to states and territories to continue to deliver the Specialist Dementia Care Program
  • $11.8 million over three years from 2023–24 to implement the new Aged Care Act, including governance activities, program management and extension of the Aged Care Approvals Round 

Home care

Ahead of the switch to Support At Home, the Government is investing $531.4 million to release an additional 24,100 Home Care Packages in 2024/25. It hopes to help reduce average wait times for those seeking home care services by doing so. Funding also includes:

  • $174.5 million over two years from 2024–25 to fund the ICT infrastructure needed to implement the new Support at Home Program and Single Assessment System from 1 July 2025
  • $21.6 million over three years from 2024–25 to extend the Home Care Workforce Support Program for an additional three years to facilitate the growth of the care and support workforce in thin markets

The Government will also reprioritise unspent funds from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme over five years from 2023–24 to other sub-programs within aged care services. 

Aged care workforce

Having already invested $11.3 billion into the interim 15% aged care pay rise, the Government has confirmed it will fully fund the complete aged care wage increase. The average wage increase for eligible workers will be 23% once phased in.  

Meanwhile, $87.2 million will go towards workforce initiatives to attract nurses and other workers into aged care. An additional $90 million is set aside for the entire healthcare system to make it “simpler and quicker” for international health practitioners to work in Australia. 

What it means for individuals

There are plenty of big wins for individuals inside and outside the aged care industry. Here’s a quick snapshot of the key budget wins.

Stage 3 tax cuts mean anyone earning more than $18,200 will receive a tax cut when they submit their 2023-24 tax return. ABC outlined what you can expect to receive based on your taxable income. 

Other cost of living measures announced include a $300 rebate on every household’s power bills, while the Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment rises. 

Aged care workers who are studying or have a student loan will see their student loan decrease after the Government reversed last year’s hefty 7.1% indexation rise. Nursing students will also receive a Commonwealth Prac Payment of up to $319.50 per week when they undertake unpaid placements.

Superannuation is going to be paid on the Government-funded paid parental leave scheme, providing a long-term boost for a cohort largely made up of women. 

What it means for healthcare & disability

Healthcare as a whole continues to receive major funding with an extra $8.5 billion, including $227 million to establish 29 urgent care clinics across Australia. 

Medicare will receive $2.8 billion from that pool of funding, with the Government focused on helping older Australians avoid hospital admission or receive better support when transitioning out of hospital into settings such as aged care. 

Dementia research receives its share of $141.1 million as the Government looks to improve health outcomes for a range of chronic conditions including diabetes, bowel cancer and skin cancer. 

A further $468.7 million is being provided to support people with disability and get the NDIS back on track. This includes focusing on fighting fraud and introducing reforms that will help NDIS participants and people with disability better navigate their services. 

Be sure to follow hello leaders over the coming days as we continue to cover the 2024 Budget.

Department of Health and Aged Care
Aged Care Act
Federal budget
aged care reform
support at home
anika wells
aged care funding
home care reform
Jim Chalmers
2024 budget