Budget 2022: No real reform for aged care says ANMF

The 2022 federal budget shows that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has failed to do his job to deliver urgently needed reforms in health and aged care, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).

Other than modest funding for some preventative health initiatives and increased paid parental leave (PPL) provisions, the union says last night’s budget sidestepped much-needed real reform in health and private aged care.

The budget did little to address the current aged care staffing crisis and failed to commit to funding for higher wages for aged care workers. The government announced an extra $468 million for the sector, well short of what was recommended by the Aged Care Royal Commission, including $49.5 million for aged care training for existing and future workers.

In the face of chronic staff shortages, the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left nurses, midwives and carers beyond the point of burnout, and the crisis in aged care, the ANMF says the Prime Minister’s budget has once again shown that he is playing politics and not doing anything to fix the embattled sector.

One year into the Government’s five-year reform program, nothing has improved and the situation has worsened, the union argues.

“Yet again, Mr Morrison has failed to do his job,” ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.

“We’re disappointed that the Budget has let down our critical health and aged care workforce.

“We all know that the failures in care for the elderly are not one-off, exceptional or occasional – they are widespread. We have all seen the heart breaking consequences of the Government’s continued inaction – it simply must not continue.”

Ms Butler said the government had ignored the plight of nursing home residents, nurses and care workers by failing to implement the Royal Commission’s key recommendations – safe minimum staffing levels, increased wages for aged care workers, and accountability for taxpayers’ money.

“We ask Mr Morrison, how many preventable deaths do there need to be and how many dedicated nurses or aged care workers need to be driven from their jobs before he finally fixes chronic staffing shortages, causing so much pain and suffering in the country’s nursing homes?”

For real reform of health and aged care to occur, the ANMF is calling on the Opposition, the Greens and Independents to work with stakeholders and commit to an increase in funding for public health and maternity systems; funding and legislating mandated staffing ratios in private aged care; improved wages and conditions for the aged care workforce; legislating clear transparency measures to ensure that taxpayer-funds for aged care providers are tied-to direct care; providing equal rights for working women, starting with eradicating the gender pay and superannuation gap, and addressing the health impacts of the climate crisis in Australia and the Pacific Region.

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