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Home News and media centre News 2024 Federal Budget – OPAN’s response

2024 Federal Budget – OPAN’s response

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) has welcomed The Federal Government’s 2024 Budget and is redoubling our efforts on its call for an expedited new Aged Care Act, expected to be released in 2025. OPAN’s CEO Craig Gear has expressed ‘disappointment’ in the delay in the Aged Care Act but is particularly pleased to see an additional $2.2 billion in funding for aged care.  

We are disappointed to see the Budget Papers indicate that the new Aged Care Act will commence on 1 July 2025, rather than this year which we have strongly advocated for” said Mr Gear.  

This Budget had a strong cost of living focus, but it should have done more for older people. Here is OPAN’s Budget summary: 

Aged Care Act

“The new Aged Care Act will put older people at the center of aged care. It will also support the Government’s response to the Aged Care Taskforce. These reforms are crucial to create a sustainable sector that delivers high-quality care. The Government is continuing to consult with older Australians and stakeholders to ensure there is broader support for reforms to improve the standard of aged care.” 

  • $11.8 million over three years from 2023–24 to implement the new Aged Care Act, including governance activities, program management and extension of the Aged Care Approvals Round  
  • The Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) was due to be discontinued from 1 July 2024. Due to the delay in commencement of the new Aged Care Act, it will be extended to continue allocating RAC places to providers rather than to older people. 
  • The Government is investing $1.2 billion over five years from 2023-24 in critical digital systems to support the introduction of the new Aged Care Act and contemporary IT systems. 

Home Care Packages  

$531.4 million to release 24,100 additional Home Care Packages in 2024–25. The additional Home Care Packages are welcomed and provide further relief, but more needs to be done to deliver an integrated and streamlined aged care system that supports older people at home, delivering care based on their needs and at the time they need it.  

  • The Government has also allocated $48.4 million over two years to provide viability payments to providers to maintain the short-term viability of Veterans’ Home Care and Community Nursing programs. 
  • $174.5 million over two years to fund the ICT infrastructure needed to implement the new Support at Home Program and Single Assessment System from 1 July 2025.   

Workforce 

We commend the Government for its commitment to $87.2m to attract a skilled workforce into aged care who understands how to deliver rights-based, person centred support and care. The commitment to funding the next stage of the Fair Work Commission’s decision for higher wages also supports a workforce older people desire and need.  

  • $65.6 million over four years from 2024–25 to attract and retain aged care workers, collect more reliable data, and improve the outcomes for people receiving aged care services through existing aged care workforce programs.   
  • $21.6 million over three years from 2024–25 to extend the Home Care Workforce Support Program for an additional three years to facilitate the growth of the care and support workforce in thin markets.   

Veterans’ Home Care and Community Nursing 

The Government has also allocated $48.4 million over two years from to provide viability payments to providers to maintain the short-term viability of Veterans’ Home Care and Community Nursing programs. 

Entry level support

We are disappointed there is no additional growth funding to reduce wait times for entry level support in the aged care system and that unspent Commonwealth Home Support Programme funds will be reallocated to other aged care programs.  

$110 million was already allocated in 2024-25 for:

  • domestic assistance
  • allied health and therapy
  • transport services
  • home maintenance
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

The boost of $110 million in funding for the Commission will enhance its capability as a regulator, but there needs to be independent oversight and handling of complaints.  Our concern is that the delayed Aged Care Act also delays the enforcement of older people’s rights in aged care and restorative justice when issues occur. 

Hospital and Residential Care interface  

An increase of $882.2 million funding to ensure that older people get the medical support they need. As part of the $1.2 billion Strengthening Medicare package, states and territories will be funded to upskill the residential aged care workforce, deliver hospital outreach services in the community, provide virtual care services, and deliver complex care for older people outside of the hospital.  

Funding to support earlier discharge from hospital includes:  

  • $610.4 million over four years to invest in initiatives that address long stay older patient challenges, unique to each jurisdiction. 
  • $190.0 million over three years from 2025–26 for the extension and redesign of the Transition Care Programme to provide short-term care of up to 12 weeks for older people after a hospital stay.  
  • $56.8 million over five years for the expansion of the Acute to Residential Care Transition Service dementia program to transition long-stay patients with behavioural psychological symptoms of dementia out of hospital into a residential aged care home.

PBS Prescriptions and vaccines

Five-year freeze to the cost of PBS prescriptions for pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Cardholders, so medicines stay cheaper, benefitting people in residential aged care homes. 

Aged care residents have more options to receive a free vaccination. Community pharmacists are now paid the same fee a doctor gets to administer free vaccines to residents in aged care under the National Immunisation Program. 

AN-ACC

  • $7.8 million over two years to extend funding to aged care service providers in thin markets as they transition their business operations to accommodate the new Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding model.   
  • $4.1 million over three years to undertake ICT preparation work to configure the new Basic Care Tariffs in the AN-ACC funding model. 

My Aged Care

The My Aged Care Contact Centre will receive $37 million over two years to reduce call waiting times for people seeking information and access to aged care. 

People living with dementia

  • Over three years, $30.4 million will be provided to states and territories to continue delivering the Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP), which funds specialist dementia care units in residential aged care homes. 
  • $56.8 million over five years for the expansion of the Acute to Residential Care Transition Service dementia program to transition long-stay patients with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia out of hospital into a residential aged care home.  
  • $1.7 million in for the Australian Dementia Network to continue preparing the health system for developments in biomarkers and disease-modifying therapies.  
  • $12.5 million over two years from to Dementia Australia to support at risk populations including those with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), as well as increase public awareness about CTE. 

Palliative Care

  • Over two years, $24.9 million will be spent on continuing the Comprehensive Palliative Care in Aged Care program to support states in delivering specialist palliative care services in residential aged care. 
  • $10.8 million over two years to extend the Palliative Aged Care Outcomes Program and the Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach program to continue to upskill the aged care and primary care workforce to further embed palliative care capacity in the aged care workforce.  

First Nations Peoples

Working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to deliver better access for First Nations people to health and aged care, with a $137.3 million package of measures including:  

  • Boosting vaccination rates.  
  • Targeted and culturally appropriate mental health support.  
  • All dispensed medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) now covered by the Closing the Gap PBS co-payment.  
  • Growing and supporting the First Nations health workforce.  
  • The new Medical Research Future Fund Reducing Health Inequities Mission. 

Read the media release here >