Aged Care Hospitals

Government vows sustainable, quality aged care a top priority


The Albanese Government recently released the much-anticipated Aged Care Taskforce’s Final Report, marking a significant step toward overhauling Australia’s aged care system to provide sustainable, high-quality care for all older Australians, now and in the future.

After extensive deliberations throughout 2023, the Taskforce did not recommend introducing a new tax or levy dedicated to funding aged care. The Government swiftly confirmed it would not pursue increased taxes or a new levy on aged care costs, nor change the means-testing treatment of the family home.

Instead, the Final Report delivers 23 key recommendations aimed at improving the long-term sustainability and funding model for the aged care sector. Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells, who chaired the Taskforce, stated: “Australia’s aged care system is under stress. There is universal acceptance that something must change in order to ensure all Australians can age with the dignity, safety and high-quality care they deserve.”

The Government has vowed to carefully analyse these recommendations, guided by principles of delivering “lasting and enduring reforms” to benefit both current and future generations relying on aged care services. The urgency is clear, with projections that the number of Australians aged 65 and over will more than double, and those 85 and over will more than triple, within the next four decades.

“After spending their lives building up our country, we have a solemn responsibility as a nation to respectfully care for older Australians as they age,” Minister Wells affirmed.

While the Albanese Government has already implemented initial reforms based on the Aged Care Royal Commission’s recommendations – such as increasing nursing staff, giving carers more time for care, raising wages and improving transparency – there is consensus that further systemic changes are required.

“All of us have a stake in a sustainable, high-quality and dignified aged care sector – whether it’s for our parents, ageing loved ones, or even eventually for ourselves,” Minister Wells stated.

The Taskforce’s Final Report has been welcomed by a consortium of 12 national organisations representing and advocating for older Australians and their carers. However, they are urgently calling for the parallel development of a robust new Aged Care Act to enshrine critical rights and protections.

COTA Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow emphasised, “The Federal Government committed to a deadline for legislation enshrining the basic rights of older people and we’re looking forward to seeing them delivered in that timeframe…We can’t afford to delay the fundamental rights of older people any longer.”

The organization’s joint submission outlines key requirements for the new Act, including enforceable rights addressing power imbalances, a robust independent complaints system, transparency around funding and timelines, strong regulation with penalties for violations, guaranteed visitation rights in aged care facilities, support for informal carers and strengthened diversity provisions.

“The new Aged Care Act strives for a major cultural shift in the way aged care is delivered. It corrects the current power imbalance, putting older people at its centre, rather than the organisations that are providing services,” said Craig Gear, CEO of the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).

National Seniors Australia CEO Chris Grice emphasised the need for greater transparency across all aspects of the aged care system, including funding sources, timelines for accessing care and adherence to those timelines.

As the Government works through the Taskforce’s recommendations and continuing Royal Commission reforms, the overarching focus remains on ensuring dignity, respect and quality care for the nation’s rapidly ageing population.

“As we consider the Taskforce Report and continue to implement the reforms of the Royal Commission, our focus will always be ensuring dignity and respect for older Australians,” Minister Wells stated.

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