Industry leaders say the budget ignores key areas for improvement

Published on 15 May 2024

Aged care received a notable investment from the 2024 Budget, but what do industry leaders think about the outcome? [Twitter]

The 2024 Federal Budget has been released – which hello leaders recapped as aged care’s $2.2 billion investment was revealed – and industry leaders are sharing their thoughts. 

ACCPA says there’s more work to be done

In a recurring trend, aged care’s $2.2 billion investment has been welcomed but the peak body for providers, ACCPA, knows more is needed to ensure ongoing sustainability.

They praised the Government’s commitment to fully fund wage rises between 3% and 14%, sharing that recruitment is improving, and also the additional investment in over 24,000 home care places. 

“It’s critical that investment in home care packages continues, to ensure that demand is met and that older people can receive the care they need quickly rather than waiting months for even basic support,” ACCPA CEO, Tom Symondson, said.

“Increasingly, people want to stay in their homes for as long as they safely can. We also know that the waiting list for home care packages has increased in recent years. Clearly there’s more work to be done, as we flex up to the new Support at Home Program in 2025.”’

Among the most important budget announcements was the one without any financial attachments – the new Aged Care implementation date. The Government has finally confirmed it will be deferred until July 1 2025, one year later than anticipated. 

“Getting legislation of this magnitude right will take time, which we now have. However, this delay makes it even more critical that the legislation is introduced to parliament as soon as possible to allow for an effective implementation,” he said.

Mr Symondson also expressed his disappointment that the Aged Care Taskforce, or its recommendations, were not mentioned in the budget.

Providers mull the wins and loss

Elsewhere, Catholic Health Australia (CHA) supported the Aged Care Act’s delayed commencement and the pay rise funding commitment. But just like ACCPA they are concerned about the radio silence over the Aged Care Taskforce.

“It’s been six months since the Aged Care Taskforce delivered its recommendations and the government has not even responded to them,” CHA Director of Aged Care Policy, Laura Haylen, said.

“The decision to neglect the Aged Care Taskforce recommendations in this budget is incredibly disappointing and frustrating.”

“With most facilities operating at a loss and many at risk of closure, we are running out of time to secure quality and sustainable aged care for our loved ones. Every day adds more to the cost of fixing the system, and leaves more older Australians languishing in our hospitals for lack of quality care options in their community. There is no excuse for delay.”

CHA and Anglicare Australia shared support for home care investments, acknowledging the almost half a billion dollars that will create 24,100 more Home Care Package places.

“Across the country, older people are struggling to get the care they deserve. Tonight’s Budget takes some important steps to turn that around,” Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers, said. 

“Most older people want to age at home for as long as they can. They shouldn’t be forced to wait for years for help, or be pushed out of their home in order to access care.”

Older people forgotten in housing investments

There are big budget investments for housing targeting homelessness and people fleeing domestic violence, but unfortunately, it appears older people have been forgotten. That’s the view of Retirement Living Council (RLC) Executive Director Daniel Gannon who said more needs to be done to support age-friendly accommodation and care. 

“The number of people aged over 75 around the country will increase by 70 per cent by 2040, which should lead to governments prioritising what is required to house this ‘silver tsunami’,” Mr Gannon said.

“Instead, it’s radio silence on why purpose-built seniors’ housing still hasn’t been included in the Prime Minister’s 1.2 million new homes target and what the government’s response is to the Aged Care Taskforce recommendations.”

“Given the government is the judge, jury and executioner of this Taskforce and having already had five months to consider their own findings, noncommunication signals one of two things: it’s either bad news for consumers or it’s bad news for operators.”

Disappointment in the disability sector

There is overlap for the aged care and disability support services and it would be remiss to disregard the neighbouring sector’s disappointment with the budget. 

Laurie Leigh, National Disability Services (NDS) CEO said it was a missed opportunity to provide much-needed support to a disability sector on the brink of collapse. She cited inadequate pricing and spiralling costs as reasons for providers shutting down disability services in the past 12 months.

“While there are some welcome measures in the budget, we are deeply disappointed at the lack of targeted measures to ensure that disability service providers can continue to support hundreds of thousands of people with disability,” Ms Leigh said.

“Budget measures such as a funding boost to improve the operations of the NDIS Commission, early work on progressing the NDIS Review recommendations for independent pricing and foundational supports, and a focus on developing evidence-based supports are welcome, this is a far cry from the investment that’s needed for sector transformation.”

“The absence of any transformation funding for the sector, coupled with the rising costs of delivering quality services, is extremely disappointing.”

home care
Federal budget
aged care reform
retirement living
aged care funding
disability care
2024 budget