MP backs call for budget boost for home care packages

MP backs call for budget boost for home care packages

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is backing today's call from the Council of the Ageing (COTA) for the Government to urgently address the huge waiting list for home care packages with billions of dollar in extra funding in the Federal Budget.

“There are now 128,000 people on the home care package waiting list across the nation. That number will only continue to climb if the Government doesn’t take immediate and meaningful action,” Rebekha said.

“Recent announcements of extra packages are piecemeal and have barely scratched the surface. People are dying while waiting for high-level packages.

"This is an essential spend, especially if the Government is hinting at a $70 billion budget surplus next week.

“Just this week I successfully advocated for a couple aged in their 90s from my electorate to get a basic level two package after they battled on their own for two years to get help, even with both of them having health and mobility issues and the main carer having to undergo treatment for cancer.

“A three-month waiting list instead of the current average waiting time of 12 months is how we should be treating our senior citizens if we are serious about helping them stay in their own homes.

"COTA's call today for an extra $1.25 billion per annum over the forward estimates for the Home Care Program is a start but really we need to be investing much more than that if we are to achieve the three-month standard."

Last Friday the Royal Commission into Aged Care heard from the Health Department that it would require more than $2 billion per annum in additional funding to bring down the current waiting list to a three-month average.

COTA’s Chief Executive, Ian Yates, has called on the Government to commit $1.25 billion a year over the forward estimates.

The Productivity Commission predicts that 3.5 million Australians will be accessing aged care services every year by 2050.

There are 568 people in the Hills and Southern region who are still waiting for a home care package at their approved level and are yet to receive a lower level package while they wait. This includes 54 individuals who have been approved for a level four package.

“The most recent Data Report for the Home Care Package Program confirms what we already know, and what my constituents have been telling me for months, that our most vulnerable older Australians are waiting too long to receive the help they need,” Rebekha said.

“People must wait for over 12 months just to receive a level two package and then another 12 months to receive a higher level four package and in the meantime, they must rely on family and friends to attend to their day to day needs.

“I welcome the government’s previous attempts to increase the number of packages available but 10, 50, 100 places make no difference when over 126,000 people are waiting.

“The Prime Minister has been touting a return to budget surplus and I want to see those funds reinvested in the people who spent their working lives building the foundations of our now apparently strong economy.”