2012 Budget must provide aged care reform plan: CHA


Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has called on Treasurer Wayne Swan to give aged care reform the attention it deserves as he begins the difficult process of pulling together the Federal Budget for 2012-13.

In its pre-Budget submission, CHA – the largest owner grouping of health and aged care services in Australia – said there has been a lot of positive talk from politicians about the need for an overhaul of the aged care system.

"When the Government was seeking re-election for a second term in 2010, it made a commitment that aged care reform would be a priority during this term," CHA Chief Executive Martin Laverty said.

"As we near the halfway mark in that three-year term, it is now time for the Government to put its money where its mouth is."

Mr Laverty said the Government has invested a lot of time and money in preparing for this moment, most significantly in the Productivity Commission’s report Caring for Older Australians, released last August. It echoed the call of earlier reports that fundamental reform was needed in the aged care sector.

"The recommendations of that report have received widespread support from the industry, various peak bodies and consumer groups, so the Productivity Commission has really provided a blueprint for how the Government and the Parliament can proceed down the path of reform," he said.

In its pre-Budget submission sent to the Treasurer just before Christmas, CHA acknowledged that the changes would amount to a fundamental restructuring of aged care in Australia, meaning it would take time to implement those changes.

"Having said that, though, we believe the Government needs to make concrete progress in this year’s Budget," Mr Laverty said.

"That should include a timetable for reform, the prioritising of the development of a system of care entitlements, initiation of a process to establish Seniors Gateway Centres and the expansion of community care places."

Among other recommendations, CHA also called on the Government to support capital investment in residential care.

"A lot of these proposals will take time, and we recognise the Government’s desire for a Budget surplus, but announcing a timeline for implementation of these reforms would be a long stride in the right direction," Mr Laverty said.

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