Federal Budget 2018: Aged care initiatives fail to meet needs

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Federal Budget initiatives aimed at assisting older Australians – home-care packages, a re-drawing of the home-care scheme and an increase in the work bonus – are spread over four years and do not meet even current needs, according to the Benevolent Society.

And low-income renters and the homeless have been ignored, says Mission Australia.

The Government announced an additional 14,000 high-level home-care packages costing $1.6 billion to help older Australians stay in their homes longer; 13,500 new residential aged-care places and 775 short-term ‘restorative’ places, and $60 million for capital investment.

Benevolent Society Strategic Engagement, Research and Advocacy Executive Director Dr Kirsty Nowlan said 60,000 people currently had no package at all and 44,000 people were on lower level packages than they required.

“No one should have to wait for this critical assistance. Once people are assessed as being eligible and in need, they should have a package ready to go,” said Dr Nowlan.

“This is not, as has been heralded, a ‘budget for baby boomers’ nor does it have older Australians as its centrepiece with a ‘sweeping blueprint for aged care’.

“The Government has tried to frame this as a budget for older Australians, but around 250,000 households relying on the Age Pension are living in private rental accommodation.

“Trying to pay rent and meet the cost of living on the Age Pension is the greatest creator of poverty among older Australians. Rent Assistance has become grossly inadequate. When you add the rising costs of health care, dentistry and technology, many older people have to take drastic measures to try to make ends meet. Government policy has simply failed to provide a decent standard of living for many older Australians.”

Dr Nowlan criticised the decision to continue on with the policy to increase the pension age to 70, arguing that working until 70 was impossible for many and would force older Australians onto an inadequate Newstart allowance.

She said she welcomed other initiatives: $145 million to improve aged care in regional and remote areas, $82 million to improve access to mental health services in residential aged care and increasing the cap on older Australians earning a wage on top of their pension from $250 to $300 per fortnight.

“But compare this to other countries,” she said. “In Canada, for example, people on the equivalent of the Age Pension (Old Age Security) can earn up to $1400 (Canadian) per week before the income test kicks in. And in New Zealand, there is no income test for the Age Pension.

“This means that someone on the Age Pension is encouraged to keep working, while they can and while they want to, so they have the ability to increase their savings further before full retirement.”

Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said the Government had missed another opportunity to address rising homelessness and provide a national plan to meet the critical shortage of affordable housing for those on the lowest incomes.

YourLifeChoices tribes Cash-Strapped Singles and Couples (those on a full Age Pension who rent) are doing it tough according to our surveys and feedback and have been for some time. According to the March edition of the Retirement Affordability Index™ they are spending 29 per cent and 36 per cent respectively on housing.

According to Anglicare Australia’s latest Rental Affordability Snapshot, only one per cent of rentals are affordable for a single person receiving the Age Pension.

It also said that the number of homeless persons aged 55 and over had increased by 28 per cent, from 14,581 in 2011 to 18,625 in 2016.

Mission Australia’s Mr Toomey said the absence of a plan to tackle rental costs would lead to “greater social and economic dislocation”.

“We wanted to see more from the Budget that would energise investment into affordable rental housing. We saw plenty of support for infrastructure projects in the Budget, so why isn’t housing seen as critical national infrastructure?

“The current housing system is broken.”

He said older people in rental stress were at high risk of homelessness.

“More social and affordable housing would allow these older people to have choices too and also assist the increasing number of older people who are without a home,” he said.

Are you in rental stress? Were you disappointed high rental costs were not addressed in the Budget? Do you see a solution?

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Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 15
  1. 0

    As a full-time carer – I feel a pay rise is in order for this demographic. I don’t mind someone coming to check – for me it’s 24/7 and the costs are far more than $130 a fortnight.

    • 0

      Trebor – carers are unsung heroes. Forgotten and treated quite poorly by the system they rely on.

    • 0

      Joe Hockey, Philip Ruddock, Bronnie Bishop, Kim Beazly, etc, etc – with their undeserved fat political pensions should sacrifice their pensions to help fund people like you, as they have other massive earnings and excessive assets! Will they? Ask Mal or Bill!

    • 0

      I agree the remuneration is a pittance and I’m sure you know the stress involved

    • 0

      To be exact the carers allowance is actually $127-10 per fortnight!
      Generous isn’t it?

  2. 0

    This has nothing to do with the Federal Government budget however the rental situation is being exacerbated by Airbnbs.
    If Airbnbs are a future income for many entrepreneurials then the State government needs to find away to create affordable rental accommodation in ALL areas not just the outback. Its time to actually protect our towns infrastructure.
    They did it in the 50s – 80s and they need to do it again. But not just for low income earners. Homes not shoe boxes with an option to buy. It will stop the spiraling price bubble and it will ensure everyone has the quality of life Australians had a generation ago.

    • 0

      It wouldn’t be that hard to sort out. If you have proof of residency in an area, proof of employment in an area or a medical reason to be near a hospital etc etc.
      Then your NET income (after fixed obligations such as carer, family maintenance etc) could be assessed for eligibility in a government home.

    • 0

      I’ve several times mooted the idea of a rent/buy for HC housing, to give the occupants incentive to maintain the place and actually establish a sense of belonging instead of transience.

      On the issue of high rise – we need a new Bollywood movie – Vertical Slumdog Billionaire. I rather liked the concept of The Last Tycoon – with the guy living on a beach with a table etc, fine views, dining on the sand…

    • 0

      Trebor – Yep!

  3. 0

    Trebor is that what you get now $130 a fortnight!? When I did it I got $20 a week — as you say it is full time 24 hours and NO let up — not that we would complain

  4. 0

    This is the maximum this Govt will do when they have “rivers of gold” revenue streaming in.
    The large Business Tax cuts, plus the Newly added big tax cuts of $7K per year for the rich (peaking at $200K salary, the typical salary of backbenchers and cross benchers to get their votes) are their priorities!!!

    Imagine what they will do when there is a downturn – past history when they claimed a Budget Emergency (nasty Assets Test changes for part-pensioners which massively dropped their pensions), which was a LIE, will remain very much fresh in our minds with the ongoing nasty effects for current and new pensioners.

    No one in their right minds (other than the wealthy who will win big) would vote for this Govt.

  5. 0

    OK my wife and I are 78 years and living in a really comfy caravan with large annex come lounge room and own toilet and shower etc, etc. It would be nice to have somebody to do some cleaning and washing kitchen and bathroom floors every couple of weeks. Does anybody know if this home care thing covers that sort of chore? My wife is totally immobile with sciatica, bone on bone knee and a completely buggered water works and 6 screws and 2 plates in her back. I wait with baited breath.

  6. 0

    $127.10 a fortnight for a full-time carer that is also saving the Government a stack of money is a disgrace its not even $9 a day and just over 3 Cents an hour!
    Anyone that votes for these scum is totally MAD

  7. 0

    Young Simmo how good to see your post I was wondering where you were. If you would like to have help at home may I suggest you ring My Aged Care Ph 1800 200 422 and explain your situation to them. This is the new way we go about getting help now. Have your medicare card handy. You can look at this site too to read more about My Aged Care
    https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/ All the best to you and your wife.

  8. 0

    I am glad I don’t have to relay on the rental market for my accommodation. However, if you are still paying a mortgage plus all the others costs associated with home ownership, it’s no better. At least I have the security of knowing I cannot be given notice unless I can’t afford to pay my bills. This was a budget for the wealthiest Baby Boomers, who can afford to buy in aged care, and have paid off their homes.



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