By Angela Dorizas
Victoria's peak local government body has joined with Premier John Brumby in resisting the Commonwealth overhaul of aged care, threatening a withdrawal of local government funding for the aged care sector if the reforms go ahead.
Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) president Bill McArthur said the Prime Minister’s proposal reneged on a 2008 COAG commitment.
“The MAV does not support any model that centralises responsibility for community care at the Commonwealth level,” Cr McArthur said.
“On 2 October 2008, COAG agreed to establish a Roles and Responsibilities Working Group, and to consult with local government before considering future reforms to aged care.
“This work never happened and as a result the latest aged care reforms expose the Commonwealth’s complete failure to understand key impacts and consequences of its plan for Victorian communities.”
Cr McArthur said the reform is a “recipe for disaster” in Victoria, where local government was the largest public sector provider of community care. He said local government voluntarily contributes 33 per cent to the overall funding of Commonwealth and State community care programs delivered by councils.
Cr McArthur warned that the extra $160 million contributed annually by state and local government for community care could be at risk if the Rudd Government plan went ahead.
“As a major funding partner and provider of more than 80 per cent of Victoria’s meals service, home care, personal care and property maintenance, local government may decide to walk away if the Prime Minister’s reforms do not put the needs of care recipients as the highest priority,” he said.
“Local government is the reason the service has survived in Victoria and our active service model has contributed to reduced hospital stays for older people and improvements to their health, safety and wellbeing.”
Cr McArthur welcomed the Federal Government’s attention on the aged care sector, but rejected centralisation of the system.
“It’s pleasing that the fragmented, complex aged care system and a focus on preventative and community-based programs have finally received the recognition it deserves,” he said.
“National operational and funding reforms are needed for aged care after the Rudd Government inherited a disjointed system.
“However, a take-over will not deliver a sustainable model that achieves greater equity or access for our ageing population.”
Cr McArthur said the Victorian Government must retain its service planning role in partnership with local government.
“The MAV has urged the Premier to continue withholding support until the Commonwealth agrees to act in the best interests of all Victorians,” he said.
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