Most Australians support a tax levy to improve aged care

The vast majority of Australians are not confident in the aged care system and are willing to pay more in taxes to fix it.

While the Federal Budget earlier this month contained an extension to tax cuts, a new report from the Australian National University (ANU) suggests that nearly eight in 10 would pay more in taxes for improved services for older Australians.

According to the ANU’s analysis, more than half of the 3200 people surveyed (55.2 per cent) did not have much confidence in the aged care system, with a further 12 per cent having no confidence at all in the system.

Read more: Medication mistakes show ‘we can’t get basics right’

Only 1.8 per cent of Australians said they had a great deal of confidence in the aged care system, while 31.1 per cent said they had quite a lot of confidence in the system, making a total of 32.8 per cent who were confident.

This was a lower level of confidence than for many other institutions in Australia, including the federal government (45.4 per cent), the public service (60.5 per cent), state/territory governments (67.2 per cent), hospitals and the health system (77 per cent), the police (75.4 per cent) and schools and universities (70.9 per cent).

Read more: Older Australians receive less support

Study co-author Professor Nicholas Biddle said the results come at a time when aged care reform was high on the agenda of politicians and voters.

“Our study paints a very timely and, sadly, very bleak picture of the state of aged care, according to Australians, and our overall faith in a system that has come under close scrutiny in recent years,” Prof. Biddle said.

The survey was conducted before the Federal Budget, which allocated $17.7 billion to reform the aged care system over four years.

That funding included a total of $6.5 billion to create 80,000 new home care packages over the next two years, with 275,600 packages available by June 2023. 

Read more: Friday Reflection: Why did I wait so long?

The ANU’s aged care study showed that Australians supported moves to improve the sector even if it meant higher taxes for everyone.

“We also asked [for]people’s attitudes about future funding for the aged care system, and specifically if they supported a levy to improve aged care support,” Prof. Biddle said.

“Our findings suggest a massive majority, 85.4 per cent, of Australians saying they’d support a proposed 1 per cent ‘aged care improvement levy’ paid via tax.

“And a third of those in favour, 33.5 per cent, said this levy should be paid by all taxpayers.

“This would seem to imply Australians back any effort to improve aged care with extra funding.”

Prof. Biddle did say that there were other areas of concern in the survey, particularly in the wake of the age care royal commission.

“With an increased focus on the aged care workforce, it is very troubling that only 5 per cent of Australians said they would definitely recommend a young person work in the industry, and only 10.1 per cent saying they would definitely recommend an unemployed person working in the industry,” he said.

Most Australians would advise against someone considering a career in the industry, according to Prof. Biddle.

“The one positive finding in our study was that the current workforce is much more positive about the industry than those who have never worked in aged care,” he said.

The federal government’s Budget announcement did recognise the problem, encouraging people to join the aged care workforce with over $652 million set aside to train existing aged care workers and encourage more people to enter the industry. 

Would you support a tax levy to improve aged care services?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Written by Ben