The Senate inquiry into Australia’s for-profit residential aged care sector has recommended greater transparency into the use of taxpayer funds.
The Economics Reference Committee’s report into the financial and tax practices of for-profit aged care providers has deferred stakeholders’ concerns that providers prioritise profits over care to the aged care royal commission.
Federal ANMF Secretary Annie Butler welcomed the Senate committee’s recommendations but said they needed to go further to make big for-profit aged care operators more accountable for how much of Australian Government subsidies were spent on safe, best practice resident care.
The inquiry was announced last May, a week after the federal ANMF released an independent report into the tax practices of for-profit aged care providers.
The report prepared by the Tax Justice Network – Australia, Tax avoidance by for-profit aged care companies: profit shifting on public funds showed the top six for-profit providers received $2.17 billion in government subsidies but paid little, or no tax. Those providers were Bupa, Opal, Regis, Estia, Japara and Allity.
ANMF has long argued the private-for-profit and not-for-profit residential aged care sector cannot reasonably argue for more funding until we understand how many of the approximate $17 billion taxpayer dollars are spent each year on residents’ nursing and personal care.
‘We know understaffing is a key driver of the systemic failures in the aged care system,’ ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said.
‘We don’t know if there’s not enough funding to spend on adequate staff or if there’s not enough funding spent on adequate staff.’
The Senate committee report noted the aged care providers disputed revenue and profit figures used in the Tax Justice Network – Australia report, but that conclusions could only be drawn from the incomplete information publicly available.
‘The committee cannot with any certainty conclude that for-profit providers are engaging in improper tax or financial practices. The problem, however, is that the committee is also unable to conclude that they are not,’ the report states.
‘We don’t know if there’s not enough funding to spend on adequate staff or not enough funding spent on adequate staff.’
The Senate committee recommended the aged care royal commission consider the aged care providers’ tax and financial structures.
‘Every day we wait for a royal commission, more qualified nurses and care staff positions are cut and nursing and care hours slashed,’ Ms Butler said.
ANMF believes aged care residents must be safe from harm and protected from the consequences of understaffing now.
Tell your federal politician to legislate nurse/carer to resident ratios in private-for-profit and not-for-profit aged care now at timeforruby.anmf.org.au