Catholic Health Australia (CHA) is urging the Morrison Government to use the federal budget to adopt the Australian Aged Care Collaboration’s (AACC) priorities for reform detailed in its new report, Aged Care: The Way Forward.

The AACC represents more than 1000 aged-care providers and peak bodies including Catholic Health Australia, Aged & Community Services Australia, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Leading Age Services Australia, and UnitingCare Australia.

The new report has examined the Royal Commission’s findings to identify a range of priorities, including:

  • Committing to legislating a new rights-based Aged Care Act by July 2023.
  • Providing funding for the removal of the home care package waiting list by December 2022, and thereafter offering services based on assessed need within one month of assessment;
  • Funding the establishment of a regional network of ‘care finders’ and scalable assessment services, and increased support for independent advocacy; and
  • Establish an independent aged care pricing authority by July 2022 to determine prices for aged care services.

CHA chief executive Pat Garcia said next month’s Federal Budget was the chance the government needed to totally overhaul the aged-care funding model and its workforce strategy.

‘This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for broad-scale aged-care reform, particularly in how it is funded and staffed,’ Mr Garcia said.

‘The Budget must include a raft of changes to lift the standard of aged care, including a better paid, more highly trained workforce, and laws to enshrine high-quality aged care as a basic right.

‘The Government must lay out an overall plan for fixing the system. Transformation cannot happen overnight because of the lead time required to implement many of the reforms and because of the legacy of chronic under-funding over decades.

‘Australia currently spends less than half of what comparable countries do on aged care (1.2 per cent of GDP compared with an OECD average of 2.5 per cent).

‘More than 515,000 Australians are now aged over 85, and this is expected to grow to 1.5 million people by 2058.’