Speech - Cultural Diversity in Ageing 2012 Conference - Stories to Inspire Keynote Address Melbourne 8 June 2012
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8 June 2012
Good afternoon and thanks very much for having me here today.
I'll start by acknowledging the traditional owners of this land and pay my respects to their elders past and present, in the spirit of reconciliation.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity today to talk to you about our Living Longer Living Better package, particularly with a view to talking about how it will benefit CALD older Australians - older Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
I am going to try and keep this short because I understand there are some questions you might have about the application of the detail of this policy. I'll try and stay relatively short, to preserve as much time as we possibly can for questions and hopefully answers.
We released this policy now 7 weeks ago which has flown by. It is the most significant set of reforms to our aged care system in almost 30 years - since the introduction of the main elements of the system that we work with today in the mid 1980s by the then Hawke Government.
It essentially tries to re-engineer a system that was built back then around residential care to a system that still pays important regard to the residential care system, but whose primary objective is to support people staying in their own home for as long as possible and if possible for the whole of their lives.
This package includes $3.7 billion of new initiatives, many of which are directed at that objective, to try and shift the focus to home care and home support, particularly with the move of most of the HACC systems to the Commonwealth which will be finalised in the next few weeks on the 1st of July.
We’re also directing that money at doing things like improving the supply of qualified, skilled and dedicated workers. We have 300,000 aged care workers today in Australia and I know a number of providers, Sharon in the Northern Territory, for example, struggle to find the workers we need today, needing 300,000 of them. Over the coming decades, we're going to need about a million aged care workers - an extraordinary number. It boggles the mind to think that in the coming decades 1 in 20 workers in Australia will be an aged care worker. The skills that they'll need to deal with the physical frailty of people in aged care, the prevalence of dementia are challenging enough, without beginning to think about of the cultural and linguistic skills we also want our workers to have in this sector to deal with the needs and preferences of the CALD Older Australians.
There is a part of the package that I'm particularly proud of - $278 million directed at fighting dementia - dealing with the particular challenge that the increasing prevalence of dementia in our community and in the aged care system is presenting to us.
One of the elements of the reform package that first of all will be very challenging to the aged care sector, but secondly has particular resonance for the CALD sector is our ambition to move all home care packages to a consumer directed care system - a CDC system. From the first of July next year, when the first tranche of expanded home care packages come into the system, they will all be CDC. Over the coming couple of years after that, we will move all existing packages, or our ambition is to move all existing packages to a CDC system, which again, is going to have particular challenges, but also I think particular resonance for CALD older Australians and their communities.
I am committed, the Government is committed to making sure these reforms and other elements of the package work for older Australians of all backgrounds, including older Australians of a culturally and linguistically diverse background.
This package comes largely from very intensive engagement that I conducted over the last few months of last year, across Australia; with consumers, with providers, with experts, with aged care unions about what it was they thought should be implemented from the Productivity Commission’s report.
This package is a product of that engagement. That engagement included a number of conversations targeted at CALD communities here in Melbourne, in Sydney and in Adelaide, including some conversations that were particularly targeted at the prevalence of dementia in CALD communities.
On Wednesday this week, again here in Melbourne, FECCA organised a very productive roundtable where we were able to talk with CALD groups again about the impact of the Living Longer Living Better package, having now released it. At that meeting, I confirmed that it's my intention for us to develop, before the end of this year, a specific CALD aged care strategy. The one we currently have was written in 1995 and almost two decades on I think it's beyond time for us to update it, and make sure that it meets the needs and challenges of the 21st century, particularly the needs and challenges identified in the Living Longer Living Better package.
It’s quite an ambitious timeframe to do it by the end of this year but I said, and I think everyone agreed at this Roundtable on Wednesday that there's no point developing a CALD aged care strategy if it’s released after we've done all the design work on what a CDC Home Care System will look like, or what the Gateway will look like, or how we're going to roll out additional residential aged care licenses into the future.
We need to get cracking on it - we need to make sure it’s finalised in a way that has the support of the aged care sector and CALD communities so that we can feed our learnings from that strategy into the design process for a lot of the mainstream changes that are identified in Living Longer Living Better.
In addition to the Gateway, the changes to the Home Care system, the Home Support program that will incorporate HACC, the respite system and such like, there are some elements of LLLB that are specifically targeted at the CALD communities. Most obviously, there is a $25 million diversity fund that sits on top of existing grants programs for aged care. This fund is particularly targeted at improving the aged care sector's capacity to deal with diversity and the largest group of diversity is cultural and linguistic diversity. So, how we're going to design the guidelines for that program is something I want dealt with in this aged care strategy.
In addition to that, reflecting particularly the consultations we had with the CALD community about the impact of dementia in their communities, we're significantly expanding the... I always forget what DBMAS stands for – Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services – let's all say it together. The expansion of the DBMAS program is targeted exclusively at CALD and Indigenous communities to reflect the particular challenges largely resulting from language reversion, not only, but largely resulting from language reversion that dementia presents to those communities.
So, how we design the expansion of DBMAS, a program to the tune of $45 or $50 million so that it works for those communities will be a focus. The expansion of the Community Visitors Scheme again targeted very much at CALD communities – allowing group visitor scheme arrangements for the first time – I want to talk about how that's going to work best for those communities.
I'm very proud of this package. I think that it is going to meet the needs of CALD older Australians, particularly with its focus on home care more than residential care. You know the statistics better than me, but CALD older Australians are about 25 per cent less likely than Anglo older Australians to use residential care. Shifting the system to a focus on home care is a shift that will reflect the preferences of older Australians from a CALD background.
Multiculturalism has been extraordinary thing for our country over many, many decades. The ageing of our population must be seen in that prism of multiculturalism. We must repay the contribution of so many hundreds of thousands of older Australians who’ve been here for many decades, helping to build this community. We must repay that contribution by making sure that there are services and supports in place as they age that meet their cultural and linguistic needs.
I’m looking forward to the work that FECCA is going to coordinate, involving all of you and other CALD aged care sector organisations to develop this Strategy so that the Living Longer Living Better package really does meet the needs of all older Australians.
Thank you for letting me come along on a Friday afternoon to talk to you about Living Longer Living Better and I look forward to the very gentle questions you’ll be throwing at me.
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