The Federal Government’s 2021-22 budget funding injection to residential aged care in the wake of the royal commission is ‘no way near enough to bring us up to an acceptable standard’, Professor Joseph Ibrahim told the ANMF (Vic Branch) Delegates Conference.
Prof. Ibrahim heads Monash University’s Health, Law and Ageing Research Unit.
He told ANMF Job Reps and HSRs to not be ‘conned’ by the fact that the Morrison Government has agreed to implement 126 of the 148 royal commission recommendations in part or fully. Prof. Ibrahim said if you compare closely the government’s response with the royal commission’s recommendations, the differences become apparent.
Prof. Ibrahim said Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had announced there would be $17.7 billion additional funding to aged care over four years but most of the funding was allocated for the third and fourth years of the budget.
‘In year three and four we don’t know who the government‘s going to be because there has to be an election in the next 12 months and there will be at least two budgets before that money becomes real,’ he said.
Of the $17.7 billion, $6.5 billion would be spent on home care packages, which would fund an additional 80,000 packages but leave 20,000 unfunded. Residential aged care costs approximately $20 billion per year, so the funding was ‘no way near’ the amount that many aged care advocates said was needed to bring the system to baseline function.
The government had not supported some critical recommendations which would improve staff salaries and its funding allocation meant it had ‘shifted aged care from functioning very poorly to functioning poorly,’ Prof. Ibrahim said.
Delay in minimum care time implementation
Prof. Ibrahim said the royal commissioners had recommended a minimum 200 minutes’ daily care per resident from July 2022. The government had accepted the recommendation but providers do not have to increase staff time until 1 October 2023.
‘This is an example of something that really needs to happen now, the royal commission’s given (providers) at least a year and the government’s taking another year and three months to act on it,’ Prof. Ibrahim said.
The royal commission has recommended two increases of minimum time per resident but the government had agreed to only one.
The ANMF continues its national aged care campaign, pushing for wage increases for aged care workers and minimum staffing ratios.