Ruston & Taylor - JMR - Government's Aged Care Response Still Missing

Tuesday, 12 March 2024

The Albanese Labor Government has finally released its Aged Care Sustainability Taskforce Report to the sector and the Opposition, but most importantly, to the older Australians and their families who have been kept in the dark on this important issue.

The Coalition offered bi-partisan co-operation on the critical issue of aged care sustainability more than 300 days ago, but our requests for information have been consistently ignored by the Government.

Having only been given the Taskforce’s report on Sunday, one thing clear to the Coalition is that we have more questions than answers.

The report outlines the key challenges facing the aged care sector and acknowledges the complexity of the system.

However, the Government has failed to outline the magnitude of the problem surrounding the sector’s ongoing sustainability. Without the Government revealing the quantum of the issue, it is hard to know what is needed to solve for the problem before us.

Significantly, the Government has also failed to outline how the response to this problem will be funded. Older Australians and their families deserve to know how much more they will be paying for aged care services going forward.

It is pleasing to see an acknowledgement that more innovation is needed within the sector and providers need a greater ability to raise capital funds so they can invest in renewing their facilities and preparing for our aging population. But there are no details on how this will be achieved.

Despite the Coalition calling out for more than a year that chronic workforce shortages are the major factor contributing to the serious financial instability within the sector, the report explicitly excludes the issue from consideration.

The Opposition understands that the current workforce crisis must be addressed before a truly sustainable aged care system can be achieved.

If the Government is serious about addressing this critical issue, it must immediately implement a national workforce strategy for the entire care sector.

Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Anne Ruston said that the Coalition genuinely wants to work with the Government to ensure our aged care system remains sustainable into the future.

“We will not stand in the way of sensible reform that seeks to strengthen the systems sustainability, but we also need details on how the Government plans to respond to this report so that we can consult with the older Australians, their families and with the aged care sector.”

“I am extremely disappointed that the Government has not involved older Australians in this important conversation from the beginning. Policy developed without the people it impacts at the table lacks the open, honest and timely input that is necessary to meet its purpose.”

“I look forward to working with the Government, aged care providers, peak bodies and older Australians to work through the issues raised in the Aged Care Taskforce’s report.” Senator Ruston said.

Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor said the Coalition will take a considered approach to the report.

“The Coalition has been ready to work cooperatively with the government on a range of important social issues such as aged care and the NDIS.”

“But the government has failed to come to the table. These issues are too important to get wrong.”

“We need to make sure they are economically sustainable now and into the future.”

Our aged care system is taxpayer funded, and it is relied upon by Australians to be there when they need support as they age. Its ongoing financing and sustainability is a matter of national importance.

The Coalition will take our time to work through the report, prioritising the need for older Australians to be brought along this journey of change and for providers to be supported as they prepare for the next generation of aged care residents.