The Australian Greens have flagged amendments to the Government’s aged care reform package through additional comments to the Senate inquiry report into the Bills, tabled in Canberra today.
“The Australian Greens are strongly supportive of responsible and much needed reform to aged care,” said Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on ageing.
“There’s no doubt that pressure on older Australians, staff and aged care providers who deliver important services across the aged care sector is increasing. For too long, reforms have been spoken about without action,” said Senator Siewert.
“While we are broadly supportive of this package, there are some key areas we have identified through this inquiry and our consultations with the sector that need to be addressed. This is particularly the case in regards to part pensioners, as well those providers and services who were already under pressure and may find it hard to transition to the new funding arrangements, such as those who operate in rural and regional areas.
“The Greens are supportive of the introduction of a co-contribution payments structure that provides important protections such as the annual and lifetime caps, along with greater flexibility and time-frames for consumers to choose how they pay.
"However, I remain concerned about the pressure that part pensioners will experience under the pricing structures proposed by these reforms. We are recommending a revision of the way taper rates for home care operate, in order to lessen the burden on people on low incomes and part pensions.
"Aged care services for people who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of homelessness are very complex and specialised. The Australian Greens have actively pursued this issue and believe a separate homelessness supplement is essential to delivering aged care reform.
"This reform has not resolved some of the ongoing problems faced by organisations delivering services in rural and remote communities. In particular, providers have spoken to us about the problems that come with attracting and retaining staffing as a significant challenge in rural and remote communities.
"We have made recommendations on how to support rural and regional services and the ways in which organisations are classed as ‘regional or remote' in order to gain additional support.
"It is essential that aged care services are financial viable and capable of achieving growth in coming years. From that point of view we have made recommendations that provide the sector with increased capacity to transition if these new arrangements are undermining their viability. We have been very careful to listen to the needs of the sector to make sure these reforms deliver on their intended outcomes.
"The Australian Greens are committed to continuing to work on aged care reform and we will continue to speak to the older parties about delivering the best possible legislation through the Senate," Senator Siewert concluded.