Aged care reform proposal, a blow to older people: MAV

The Federal Government is incapable of managing the aged care program without the partnership with local and state governments, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) says.

MAV president Dick Gross said the Council of Australian Government (COAG) would soon put forward a proposal to shift total responsibility for aged care to the Commonwealth, which could reduce service quality and care levels to hundreds of thousands of Home Community Care (HACC) recipients.

“Giving aged care to the Commonwealth and mental and disability health care to the states assumes people aged over 65 don’t access the latter services and vice versa. It does nothing to fix the problems in the system.

“The Rudd Government inherited a complex and fragmented community care system. Drawing an arbitrary line in the sand is like putting a band aid on a broken leg,” Cr Gross said.

He argued this “simplistic” proposal would slash the number of payments to state governments, threatening $160 million contributed each year by Victorian local government and the State to the chronically under-funded HACC program.

He said community care was a key component of the aged care program, with more than 50 per cent of those aged over 75 who live at home needing services such as cleaning, delivered meals and personal care.

Currently, the Commonwealth provides 60 per cent of funding and the Victorian Government contributes the remaining 40 per cent plus $60 million each year to meet the actual costs of service delivery and the daily care needs of recipients.

According to Cr Gross, unlike other states where HACC is delivered by non-government organisations, local government is the largest public sector provider in Victoria.

“Without the subsidies provided by the state and local government, the system will starve to death.

“There is no capacity for the Commonwealth to deliver this service to individual recipients, so they would most likely tender it out to their parties, making it significantly harder to manager service quality or ensure care levels meet individual needs,” he said.

The MAV has submitted a request to Prime Minister to deter the decision on the aged care reform until further consultations and reviews are undertaken.

Cr Gross said: “The reality is that councils don’t have to continue as a service provider. Many are committed to their role in delivering community care, but some would welcome putting ratepayer dollars towards other priorities.

“However, our key concern at this early stage of the reform debate is that simplicity for governments must come second. The needs of the elderly and people with a disability are paramount.”

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