A new funding agreement that increases total program funding from $52.6 million to $151.1 million over four years will significantly expand the National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP) to support greater choice and quality safeguards for senior Australians.
The Morrison Government committed to an increase of $99.6 million for the NACAP program, as part of its $17.7 billion aged care reform package, announced in the 2021-22 Budget.
This responds to the Royal Commission into Aged Quality and Safety recommendation to expand aged care advocacy, recognising advocacy support that identifies and actively considers consumer needs is essential to an aged care system that delivers respect, dignity, and consumer choice and control.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the role of the NACAP was as important as ever.
“Our five-year, five pillar reform package is transforming aged care by prioritising the individual needs of senior Australians,” Minister Colbeck said.
“An expanded National Aged Care Advocacy Program will ensure those seeking support are empowered to make informed decisions about their care, understand their rights, and have support to resolve complaints when they arise, in a time of great change.”
The expanded NACAP will improve access to face-to-face and virtual aged care advocacy through:
- doubling the workforce to support more than 15,000 additional advocacy cases and adding more than 1,000 local networking and education sessions each year;
- new community advocacy activities, including increased capability for self-advocacy, home and community care vulnerability check-ins, and education around home care service costs;
- support for aged care reform and emergencies, including extending COVID-19 response advocacy activities, and
- education for providers to better understand the diversity of the community they are serving and help remove any related barriers to access.
The NACAP will continue to be provided by the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), which builds on its record since 2017 of effectively delivering essential free, independent and confidential advocacy support and information to seniors and their families of choice or representatives.
Minister Colbeck said OPAN had a strong track record of advocacy for senior Australians through the NACAP, particularly since the emergence of COVID-19.
“OPAN is providing critical advocacy and support services to aged care residents and their families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including those in facilities that have had an outbreak,” Minister Colbeck said.
OPAN delivers NACAP through its network of nine service delivery organisations across Australia.
People in need of advocacy or information can contact an OPAN member organisation in their area on 1800 700 600 (free call), or via OPAN’s website at www.opan.com.au/opan-network.