The Turnbull Government’s 2016/17 Budget improves aged care access in hundreds of towns and communities across regional Australia, by increasing the government subsidy paid to service providers across the country.
The Commonwealth will lift the viability supplement in rural and remote areas by 30 per cent, increasing funding by an extra $102.3 million through to 2019-20.
The viability supplement is a monthly payment to improve the capacity of smaller, rural aged-care providers to offer quality care, acknowledging that there are higher costs of delivering services in these areas*.
Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley said providers of 250 mainstream services and 100 multipurpose sites, currently providing residential or home care in country areas, will now attract higher rates of funding.
“It is absolutely vital we support and protect aged care services in the more isolated parts of the nation, where a resident has familiar surroundings or support, and where family or friends are also more likely to live much closer.
“I am proud to say ensuring our elderly rural citizens are ‘better off in the bush’ comes largely because of Coalition-driven changes to the geographical remoteness classification system, which was replaced this year
by the so-called Modified Monash Model.
“The ‘Monash’ system is based on current Census figures, rather than a system reliant on 1990’s data, and is also being used to provide increased incentives to attract GP’s to rural and remote Australia, along with other vital workforce shortage programs,” Ms Ley said.
Around 7,000 older Australians on home-care packages in rural Australia will also benefit from increased funding under the Budget increase. A further five National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Flexible Program providers will also benefit from higher funding, helping clients to receive the specialist care they need.
Arrangements will be put in place to ensure services in areas reclassified with a population above ‘rural’ or ‘remote’ will not be disadvantaged, through ‘grandfathering’ protection put in place to ensure their funding will not be reduced.
*The Aged Care Financing Authority report Financial Issues Affecting Rural and Remote Providers identified greater cost pressures in rural and remote areas and noted that the viability supplement classification system is out-dated and may not best target funding in all cases.
The 2016/17 Budget increase, commencing 01 Jan 2017, is on the back of a 2014 Budget measure which also increased the viability supplement by 20 per cent, following a recommendation by the Aged Care Financing Authority.