Federal Budget: A ‘missed opportunity’ to support aged care

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has called the Federal Budget a missed opportunity to provide safe, quality care for older Australians and says it fails to support nurses and carers who work in the sector.

The $21.6 billion for the aged care sector provides a patchwork of fragmented solutions but does not address core issues underlying widespread and systemic failures which are being brought to light through the Royal Commission, ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.

“The government has made promises to support older Australians, invest in health and ensure essential services with this Budget, but has chosen to focus on tax cuts and a forecast surplus, which may or may not be delivered, instead of implementing measures which will actually turn those promises into reality.

“The Budget has failed to direct health funding to those areas where it is urgently needed to alleviate the critical pressures being felt across the acute health system. And crucially, there is no genuine support to assist the nursing and midwifery workforce working in this system.

“Most critically of all there is no funding, no plan and no guarantee that this Budget will lead to improvements in quality and safety in aged care and there is definitely no support for the aged care workforce which is currently, under enormous pressure, just managing to hold the system together.”

The government has once again failed to introduce legislative changes that would ensure mandatory minimum staffing levels and hours of care for all residents, or to fund wage increases for nurses and carers to help build a quality workforce, Ms Butler said.

“This Budget is yet another missed opportunity for the government to address the crisis in aged care by delivering crucial funding for additional staffing and guaranteeing that the generous taxpayer funded subsidies paid to providers are tied to direct care for residents.

“We believe that large, for-profit providers who continue to pay little or no tax, whilst taking advantage of their taxpayer-funded subsidies, should also come to the attention of the government’s renewed crackdown on tax avoidance as announced in the Budget.

“There is little for nurses, midwives and carers to celebrate in this Budget, we only hope that the federal election will provide an opportunity for all sides of politics to genuinely recognise the value of their contribution to our society.”

The Federal Budget 2019-20 is available at: www.budget.gov.au/

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