Living Longer. Living Better.
The ageing of Australia’s population is a profound social shift which requires an equally profound shift in society’s mind set about ageing. This is neither a problem nor an inconvenience; it’s an historic achievement that human society has strived for over centuries and presents a range of economic and social opportunities.
Australians can now expect to have an extended period of healthy, active retirement that was unimaginable in the past. Our challenge is to make sure that as we live longer, we continue to lead happy, healthy, productive and connected lives. Older Australians have the energy, experience and wisdom to contribute to business, to education and to the community, and we need to be more creative in the way we encourage and support these contributions.
Growing older does not dampen dreams and aspirations and the Government must strive to build systems and services that cater for the changing needs of the older population. We have boosted the pension, introduced a new consolidated pension supplement, made advance payment arrangements more flexible, added a new seniors work bonus, improved indexation and made significant improvements in aged care spending. We know this isn’t enough. More needs to be done.
Today, too few people are able to access care and support in their own home where they want it, not enough nursing homes are being built, employers are having trouble recruiting and keeping aged care workers they need and many older Australians have to conduct a firesale of their home to pay large bonds to get into residential care. The aged care system is no longer meeting our needs.
This Government has the leadership and vision that is needed to deliver the kind of system Australians will be proud of today and in the future. Through the Government’s aged care reform package we will deliver important benefits to older Australians, that includes more support and care at home, better access to residential care should you need it, increased recognition of carers and those from culturally diverse backgrounds, more support for those with dementia and better access to information.
We will also lay the foundations for longer term sustainable reform through more robust and transparent funding structures, improved quality and transparency, more choices about your care and how you pay for it. We will strike the right balance between important changes now and ensuring the pace of change does not compromise the current system.
In the decades ahead the size of our aged population will grow and the cost of providing aged care will increase dramatically. It is vital that our system of funding aged care strikes the right balance, taking proper account of what people can afford to contribute to their own care. People currently receiving care will continue to do so under their existing arrangements. This will be done without changing the current treatment of the family home.
Our reform plan is a turning point. Our approach is consistent with the values, aspirations and concerns of the broader community and will ensure older Australians have the independence they want with the support that they need to live in their own home for as long as they can.
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
Minister for Social Inclusion