Declared a ‘centrepiece’ of this year’s federal budget, Australia’s aged care system received landmark funding after the Royal Commission’s final report in January shone light on some of the nation’s deeply damaged institutions.
The Morrison Government announced a $17.7 billion package to reform the sector, with particular focus on an additional 80,000 home care packages, increased personal care to residents, and a boosted workforce.
I mean this roadmap has been in place for 10 years, there’s not a lot that’s new in it
Michael Woods, professor of Health Economics at the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at UTS, said although some of the reforms had sprung from the recommendations of the 2021 Royal Commission, many of the issues have needed attention since the Productivity Commission Report was released a decade ago.
“I mean this roadmap has been in place for 10 years, there’s not a lot that’s new in it,” he told Central News.
“What the Royal Commission did was expose some of the particularly poor behaviours by some providers.”
In a media statement released by Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), these reforms will give hope to the approximately 1.3 million Australians currently accessing aged care and the 360,000 staff providing critical care around the country.
Major transformations have been built off of recommendations from the Royal Commission, including better reporting of facilities through a star ratings system, raising the mandatory care minutes per resident to 200 a day, and introducing a single assessment workforce to improve the experience of senior Australians in residential care by 2022.
We’re going to need to attract people into the workforce which means they’re going to have to be paid more, they’re going to need a better career path [and] greater job certainty
Despite such landmark funding to support Australia’s elderly citizens, Woods says there need to be a sharper focus on care workers if we are to see true long-term reform in our aged care system.
“There are a lot of expenditures that are going to require a larger, better trained workforce,” he said.
“The government have put in initiatives on the training side but we’re going to need to attract people into the workforce which means they’re going to have to be paid more, they’re going to need a better career path, greater job certainty rather than just casual. Those matters aren’t addressed in this budget.”
Though a roadmap towards reformation has been underway for a decade since the release of the Productivity Commission Report in 2011, the Royal Commission 2021 has given greater impetus to the underlying flaws of Australia’s aged care system.
The Morrison Government addressed all but six of the Royal Commission’s 148 recommendations, with a total $7.5 billion in additional funds to be spent on home care under a new five-year plan.