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Benetas Acknowledges Budget Measures, Calls on Government to Unlock Funding and Commit to Sector Reform

on Wednesday, May 15, 2024

By Guest Author Sandra Hills OAM, Benetas CEO

Benetas has acknowledged measures announced in the Federal Budget while encouraging the government to provide confidence in the sector by unlocking crucial funding and committing to the implementation of the Aged Care Taskforce Report recommendations.

The financial sustainability of our sector and its ability to support our ageing population into the future is a critical issue facing aged care providers.

Not allowing providers to retain a portion of the Refundable Accommodation Deposit, as part of this Budget, is a missed opportunity to provide immediate and crucial funding to support the sector.

To improve confidence in the sector, it is essential that the government commits to implementation of the Aged Care Taskforce Report recommendations soon, well in advance of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

While it is helpful to see an investment of $531.4 million for an additional 24,100 Home Care packages, further investment and support for people on higher package levels through assistive technologies represents an opportunity to support better outcomes and encourage people to stay at home longer.

Additionally, greater certainty around pricing for providers is essential in encouraging momentum across the industry, to help it plan and have the confidence to invest in better models of care.

As an industry, we are acutely aware of the impact that workforce shortages have had on our ability to meet the current and growing demand of an ageing population.

We welcome the government’s investment of $88.4 million to continue to attract and retain workers, including fully funding the wage rises arising from Stage 3 of the Work Value Case, to support the sector to continue to deliver vital care for Australians.

We continue to encourage the government to consider a greater focus on skilled migration for the aged care sector, including an essential skills visa to allow aged care workers to migrate with residency opportunities, and to prioritise aged care worker housing in regional areas.

Confirmation of the date of implementation of the new Aged Care Act in 2025, provides the sector with more certainty to help it prepare for these important changes.

While investment focussed on upgrading crucial technology systems and digital infrastructure to prepare for implementation of the new Aged Care Act is important, we also need to focus on removing the unnecessary administrative burden on the industry, so providers can focus on care delivery.

It is essential that we continue to invest in programs and models of care that can support people in the long term. This includes crucial infrastructure planning, assistive technology to support people to live in their home safely and independently, wellness and re-ablement programs to improve health outcomes, as well as dementia and palliative care programs.

While the Budget measures provide initial investment, we urge the government to work closely with the sector to implement the Aged Care Taskforce recommendations in a considered and sequenced way, to create a system that can support all Australians in the future.

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