This Budget takes the first steps to deliver reforms to ensure older Australians in care are treated with the respect they deserve.
With a combined investment of $2.5 billion, the Albanese Government will mandate the number of care minutes residents receive – starting with 200 care minutes including 40 nursing minutes from 1 October 2023, and 215 care minutes including 44 nursing minutes from 1 October 2024. Aged care homes will receive more funding to deliver on our promise to provide more care minutes to residents. In addition, from 1 July 2023 all aged care homes must have a registered nurse on-site 24/7.
Aged care residents will also have access to better food, with the Maggie Beer Foundation funded to educate and train staff to meet new nutritional standards ($5m).
Older people in care will experience a strengthened and professional aged care workforce. A new national registration scheme for personal care workers will include a code of conduct, ongoing training and English proficiency ($3.6m). Continuity of care will also be improved by requiring providers to preference direct employment.
Home care administration and management fees will be capped and exit fees will be abolished – ensuring the amount of funds going towards direct care is maximised. This, in addition to newly published data on what aged care providers spend their funding on, will better protect older Australians from neglect, rorts and rip-offs.
Initiatives to progress in-home aged care reforms will also be funded ($23.1m), including additional consultation, a large-scale trial of a new assessment tool, and the establishment of a Service List Advisory Body. The Commonwealth Home Support Programme will be extended to the support at home program commencement (30 June 2024), to provide continuity for over 800,000 older people who access the program.
Individual homes will receive funding to provide better support to older First Nations people, those from diverse communities and those living in regional areas ($26.1m).
A dedicated Aged Care Complaints Commissioner will ensure complaints are properly and thoroughly dealt with ($9.9m). A new independent Inspector-General of Aged Care will target systemic issues to improve outcomes for older Australians ($38.7m).
The Strengthening Regional Stewardship measure ($68.5m) will expand the department’s local presence to help improve regional aged care services, including in eight new regional locations.
Funding will be provided to modernise aged care ICT to enable reform and to reduce the administrative burden for the more than 2,000 providers that interact with the Government’s aged care systems ($312.6m). Funds will also be provided to sustain the existing My Aged Care system operations.
Our biggest priority in aged care is increasing the workforce because nine years of neglect have left the sector in crisis. In August the Government made a submission to the Fair Work Commission for a needed pay rise for aged care workers. A decision is expected this summer. The Government will provide funding to support any increases to award wages resulting from the FWC decision and it will impact up to 300,000 workers.
These measures directly address Royal Commission recommendations and the neglect that we saw under the former Coalition Government.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said, “The Government will deliver aged care reform that puts people first and genuinely responds to their needs.”
“Older Australians deserve respect and dignity in aged care and this Budget takes the first steps to deliver the reforms that they so badly need,” Butler added.
Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells also said, “The Government embraces both the spirit and intent of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and through this Budget, we are taking action.”
“The 2022-23 Budget steers a course for the aged care sector towards a system that is focused on quality care.”
“Our investments help restore safety, dignity and respect of older Australians,” Wells said.