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$9.8 billion new investment in Australia’s health care and COVID response

The Australian Government is providing an additional $9.8 billion in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) update to deliver ongoing Telehealth, COVID vaccinations, and to ensure Australians have access to world class health care and medicines.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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The Australian Government is providing an additional $9.8 billion in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) update to deliver ongoing Telehealth, COVID vaccinations, and to ensure Australians have access to world class health care and medicines.

The investment continues to deliver on the Government’s aim to distinguish the health services as the world’s best, underpinned by Australia’s Long Term Health Plan.

Every single Australian has faced the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Government has committed $34 billion total health expenditure since the pandemic began.

The Government responded to the emergence of the new Omicron variant by investing a further $540 million to reinforce the health response, especially in vulnerable communities, including aged care, disability and remote communities, and ensuring the continued progress of the National Plan to Transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response.

These efforts over almost two years have helped prevent around 30,000 Australian deaths from COVID-19, when compared to the loss of life averaged across the OECD, and more than 45,000 lives saved compared to the US or the UK.

The pandemic brought forward the adoption of telehealth across Medicare, helping protect clinicians and their patients from unnecessary risk of COVID-19 exposure, now the Australian Government is making it a permanent part of Australia’s health services.

With an investment of $106 million over four years towards permanent telehealth as part of a broader $308.6 million primary care package, the Government delivers a once in a generation change to the way health care is accessed by the Australian people. Telehealth will also continue to improve the level of access to quality care, particularly for those in regional, rural and remote Australia. More information about these measures is also available online.

The Australian Government also continues to move forward on significant reform agenda in aged care and mental health, building on the Budget 2021–22 investment of $17.7 billion and $2.3 billion respectively.

COVID-19 Response

The Australian response to COVID-19 remains one of the best in the world, with more than 93% of the population aged 16 years and older fully vaccinated – making Australia one of the most vaccinated countries in the world against the coronavirus.

More than $12 billion have been invested over five years to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines to eligible people around Australia, including more than $8 billion related to vaccines and booster doses.

The National Plan to Transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response is the road map to living with COVID-19, and the Australian Government’s investment ensures measures are maintained which have helped keep Australians safe.

The Australian Government has already announced a significant continuation of COVID-19 response measures worth $540 million including:

  • The Aged Care Preparedness Support Measures Extension
  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC)
  • Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Program (SACWIC)
  • COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Response Measures
  • The National Incident Centre
  • MBS fees for COVID-19 pathology items
  • COVID-19 pathology testing in aged care
  • Aged Care: RAD Loan Scheme, and
  • So that Health research into COVID-19 vaccinations, treatment and modelling.

More information about the $540 million continuation of COVID-19 measures is available online.

The Australian Government continues to support the public health response through the National Partnership, which will remain in place until 30 June 2022, to ensure health services remain prepared and responsive to future COVID-19 outbreaks.

To support those impacted by the pandemic and ensure a strong national recovery, the Government is continuing its commitment to expanding access to high quality, person-centred mental health care by delivering specific support to states and territories that have experienced significant outbreaks and extended lockdowns. This includes:

  • an additional $7.1 million provided for Head to Health services in Victoria
  • $22.9 million to support communities in New South Wales, including through $10.6 million for 10 Head to Health pop-up services, and $12.3 million for organisations providing mental health support to people in isolation, parents experiencing post-natal depression, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, young people and people with an eating disorder
  • $2.5 million for establishment of a Head to Health pop-up service, and additional support for people with an eating disorder, children suffering trauma and the LGBTI+ community in the ACT.

The Australian Government is also committed to ensuring health services are ready and supported to deal with higher case numbers as the transition continues, and to ease pressure on acute care within our hospitals.

An investment of $61.4 million will drive this work, including $9.3 million to establish COVID-19 community care pathways, which will enhance care provided for less acute COVID patients outside of hospital.

A new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item has been added, providing GPs and other eligible practitioners with a rebate of $25 in addition to existing general consultation items for face-to-face assessment and management of low-risk COVID-19 patients, with an investment from the Government of $9.7 million.

It is expected that providing care for potentially thousands of COVID-19 patients in the community may still require direct contact between health care professionals and the patient.

A program of commissioned home visits will also receive $16.6 million to enable practice nurses, nurse practitioners and medical deputising services to attend home visits or after hours services for COVID-19 patients under GP management. It’s expected this program will have a particular focus on regional and rural areas.

It will also support the mobilisation of additional health workforce to respond to a spike in local cases, ensuring patients can be safely and effectively cared for at home.

The management of the expected rise in case numbers will be critical to ensuring everyone in need of care receives the best care in the most appropriate setting.

$13.2 million will ensure National COVID positive triage, management and escalation infrastructure is in place to deliver this. HealthDirect will be central to this work, ensuring that public health units have the capacity for patient contact and monitoring.

Funding of $22.3 million will also be invested in the National Medical Stockpile to secure supplies of pulse oximeters which will be used to monitor the vital statistics of COVID-19 patients recuperating in the community rather than hospital.

The National Medical Stockpile has already proven to be an essential resource during the pandemic – sourcing and distributing vital equipment like personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks, and vital medicines. This funding will also support the continued supply of PPE to GP practices, GP-led Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS).

Beyond the pandemic, a further $1 million over two years will support the National Medical Stockpile to create a mapping tool of critical infrastructure and population spread across Australia, which will inform modelling activities to shape and direct strategic pharmaceutical purchases and how the Commonwealth responds to a health emergency.

There will also be $16.6 million provided to temporarily boost the number of Transition Care Program places, which assist senior Australians to move out of acute care in hospital and to return home or to their residential age care facility.

The Home Medicines Service (HMS) will be extended until 30 June 2022, to enable the delivery of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medicines to eligible people’s homes.

The eligibility criteria for the HMS is also being recalibrated to people directed to quarantine or isolate under public health orders because they are either, COVID-positive, a close contact of a COVID-positive patient,  receiving COVID treatment, and those who are immunocompromised.

The temporary COVID-19 Continued Dispensing arrangements will also be extended for an additional six months to 30 June 2022, ensuring that consumers are supported to access their PBS medicines for the treatment of chronic diseases in a safe and timely manner even if they have problems in obtaining a prescription.

The independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has also recommended a specific range of PBS medicines be made permanently available under Continued Dispensing, which will be introduced on 1 July 2022 following additional consultation with the sector.

The Government is also supporting its ongoing commitment to GPRCs to help people with symptomatic COVID-19 access care when they may not have a regular GP or where access to a GP is limited.

This involves an investment of $121.8 million to extend GPRCs in Australian communities for a further six months, it will also refocus the spread of such clinics filling service delivery gaps which have been identified during the pandemic to date.

It’s hoped this investment in GPRCs will enable them to manage around half of Australia’s anticipated caseload of COVID-19 patients in the coming year.

The Australian Government has extended funding to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to assist with the coordination of COVID-19 vaccinations until June 2022, with an additional $12.3 million. This adds to the $18.3 million being provided under the PHN Vulnerable `Vaccination Program.

Funding worth approximately $8 million will also be provided to maintain the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) readiness to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian communities.

Over the past six months AUSMAT has had a presence in western and far western New South Wales to advise local health authorities on the public health response to address the Delta outbreak there.

Hospitals around Australia will still be impacted by COVID-19 and the Government is providing certainty, by extending the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) for public hospital funding for a further 12 months. This will ensure if a state or territory’s public hospital funding fails to meet a minimum level, the Government uplifts its funding to equal that level.

The 2019–20 MFG delivered a $532 million increase to the states and territories 2019–20 National Health Reform Agreement entitlements.

The success of the Australian Government’s vaccination rollout has helped protect almost all our population from the worst effects of COVID-19, in particular our vulnerable populations.

The Government is committed to ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines are available to all eligible Australians, including vaccinating children aged 5–11, and for booster or third doses for those who have already had two doses.

The Australian Government has secured more than 150 million doses of Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax in 2022 and 2023, in addition to AstraZeneca doses that are manufactured in Australia.

The Australian Government, along with the Victorian Government have reached an in-principle agreement with global pharmaceutical company Moderna, to establish mRNA respiratory vaccine manufacturing in Australia.

This will be the first onshore manufacturing of mRNA vaccines for Australia and will assist in the continuing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as equipping Australia to deal with potential future pandemics.

The Moderna facility will have scalable capacity to create up to 100 million vaccine doses a year in the event of a future pandemic.

An additional $11.4 million will be used to fund the onshore fill and finish capabilities by IDT Australia for the manufacture of clinical trial vaccine candidates.

This funding will allow IDT Australia to recommission and upgrade its current facility to a state of sterile readiness, building its capability to undertake small-scale onshore vaccine manufacturing.

Australians can be reassured the continued access to COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible people in Australia will continue, with an additional investment of $667 million from the Government.

This funding will help deliver:

  • an extension of the Vaccine Schedule under the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response with states and territories until 30 June 2022
  • funding for primary care vaccination channels to continue to administer COVID-19 vaccines through the MBS, Practice Incentive Payments, Community Pharmacies and Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics
  • additional funding to extend the services of primary care support organisations such as Primary Health Networks and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, and
  • funding vaccine providers to service residential aged care residents and workers, people with disability, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people where other vaccination options and priorities need to be supplemented.

The Australian Government has also committed $54.8 million to the ongoing delivery of the COVID-19 Vaccine Program across Australia, including the continued resourcing of Operation COVID Shield to lead and successfully implement the National Campaign Plan until 30 June 2022. This investment also provides the required technical, clinical, and compliance expertise and support for the Program.

It will also continue the COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program delivered by the Australian College of Nursing, to ensure vaccination providers are properly trained in handling and administering COVID-19 vaccines.

The rollout of boosters and third doses is already underway across Australia, and the Government is committing an additional $259.6 million to ensure all eligible Australians receive their dose.

This funding supports the continued logistical and supply chain arrangements necessary to ensure vaccines can reach all corners of Australia. It will also ensure the consumables like syringes, needles, and administrative equipment are available to continue the vaccination program.

General practitioners (GPs), pharmacists and other medical practitioners assessing people to receive a COVID-19 vaccination outside of their consulting rooms, such as in residential aged care, disability housing or a patient’s home, can claim a flag-fall payment of $57.25 for the first person receiving an assessment at each location.

The Government is providing $576,000 for the flag-fall, which is paid in addition to the vaccine suitability assessment items and can be claimed once for each visit regardless of how many patients are assessed.

In addition, primary care providers may be eligible for a $1,000 payment once they undertake 50 in-reach vaccinations, and $20 per vaccination thereafter. The funding is only available for vaccinations that are provided via a dedicated in-reach service, but can be claimed in addition to existing flag-fall arrangements and the Medicare items for delivering COVID vaccines.

Vaccine providers will also be funded to deliver in-reach vaccination clinics for the aged care and disability support sectors through to 30 June 2022. This supports residents and workers to get vaccinated.

Medicare items created in July 2021 will be continued for GPs and other medical practitioners providing COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessments for patients where more in-depth assessment and advice is required.

The Australian Government is also delivering a COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme to ensure that any people who have suffered a recognised adverse event as a direct result of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have rapid access to compensation. 

This fit-for-purpose, time-limited claims scheme enables the small number of eligible claimants who have received an approved COVID-19 vaccine or their beneficiary to obtain compensation for moderate to significant injury or death caused by the vaccine or its administration, without having to take legal action through the courts.

The Government, through the MBS, will also provide $200,000 in 2021–22 to subsidise MRI scans for patients suspected to have developed the rare myocarditis side effect of mRNA vaccination.

The importance of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters will be shared with the people of Australia with a $74.8 million investment in a comprehensive communication program.

A national advertising and communication campaign specifically targeting priority groups and hard to reach audiences, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensures the Government remains the authoritative source of information on the vaccines.

The Australian Government is also investing in supplies of safe and effective COVID-19 treatments, which have helped those Australians who have endured the virus, many requiring hospitalisation and care in ICUs.

These medicines will be a significant part of the Government’s management of current and future outbreaks of COVID-19 in Australia, protecting vulnerable people at risk of developing severe disease or where prophylactic treatment is a necessary adjunct to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

These investments have been supported by the COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments for Australia - Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group (SITAG), which is the Australian Government’s expert group advising on COVID-19 vaccine and treatment purchases.

COVID-19 treatments will continue to be made available to all state and territory governments, on a request basis, through the National Medical Stockpile.

Specifically, the Government has secured:

  • an additional 51,899 doses of remdesivir from Gilead Sciences Pty Ltd
  • 34,560 treatment courses of the injectable monoclonal antibody sotrovimab from GlaxoKlineSmith Pty Ltd
  • 15,000 treatment courses of the injectable combination monoclonal antibody ronapreve from Roche Products Ptd Ltd
  • 300,000 treatment courses of oral antiviral molnupiravir from Merck Sharpe and Dohme
  • 500,000 treatment courses of the oral antiviral Paxlovid from Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd
  • 5,000 treatment courses of the dual monoclonal antibody drug Evusheld (AZD7442) from AstraZeneca Pty Ltd.

Evusheld the first long-acting antibody with Phase 3 trial data to demonstrate benefit in both preventing and treating COVID-19. The product is currently under review by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) with supplies contracted to arrive from early 2022.

Evusheld is able to be easily administered by intramuscular injection and subject to TGA approval, it will provide access to a promising new pre‑exposure prophylaxis option for people who are immunocompromised and who are unable to have a COVID-19 vaccine, or do not develop a robust immune response to a COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition, $2.3 million will be used to extend funding for key COVID-19 treatment advisory services until 30 June 2022.

Funding of $15.6 million will support the extension and expansion of the Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) Program to organisations delivering essential care and support services in local government areas (LGAs) of concern.

The initial pilot program and the extension help prevent and contain COVID-19 outbreaks, in particular in residential aged care facilities. The extension will add an additional 70 aged care facilities, for a further eight weeks, and expand the program through rollout across essential care and support services located in areas where the risk of transmission is considered high.

Funding of $500,000 was provided for a Rapid Antigen Testing program for residential aged care staff in New South Wales to help prevent possible infection among senior Australians in care, during the states 2021 outbreak.

Quarantining will continue at the Centre of National Resilience at Howard Springs, Northern Territory, for organised repatriation of Australians from 1 January to 30 June 2022 at a capacity of 1,600 people per fortnight.

The Australian Government has provided funding to the Northern Territory Government to continue the Howard Springs facility for quarantining international arrivals on Government facilitated flights. The continuation of full Commonwealth financial support for the repatriation program will be funded under the $513.5 million bilateral agreement that extends into 2022.

Funding of $12.2 million will be provided to the South Australian Government towards the continued development of the South Australian Home Quarantine App, this includes the ability to adapt and scale the app for home quarantine trials in other jurisdictions if needed.

Guaranteeing Medicare and access to medicines, and strengthening primary care

The Australian Government’s investment of $106 million in permanent telehealth is a generational change to primary health care, delivering greater flexibility to health care as part of universal Medicare.

More than 16 million patients have already used telehealth, more than 83 million times throughout the pandemic to access GP, specialist, nurse, and allied health care services.

The Government’s Practice Incentives Program (PIP) will receive $31.8 million additional funding for general practices through the inclusion of ongoing telehealth items in the calculation of the Standard Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE).

The Government is committed to ensuring that all Australians can access high quality health care regardless of where in the country they live, and regional, rural and remote Australia is a critical area of investment. An additional $41.2 million is being provided for 3 rural and regional health workforce measures in the MYEFO update, including:

  • eligible doctors and nurse practitioners will be encouraged to live and work in rural, remote or very remote areas of Australia, with an offer from the Australian Government to reduce their outstanding Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt depending on where they work and for how long. This initiative allows for the waiver of indexation on outstanding HELP debts for eligible doctors and nurse practitioners while they are residing in and completing eligible work in a rural, remote or very remote area
  • amending Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification to automatically apply to more areas of the country, expanding to include catchments in MMM 3-4. The DPA system enables regional and rural health providers to recruit GPs in the Bonded Medical Program and Overseas Trained Doctors, giving country practices access to a greater pool of doctors, and
  • better support for GP registrars, training practices and supervisors through streamlining and scaling training payments to make GP training in regional, rural and remote areas more attractive.  Funding will also be provided to explore options to encourage workforce participation through improving GP registrars’ employment conditions.

The Australian Government will invest in the country’s pharmacists providing $300,000 over three years for scholarships under the Global Pharmacy Exchange Scholarship (GES) Program.

The scholarships, worth $50,000 each, will go to Australian pharmacists to take on a year’s work outside Australia, and to overseas based pharmacists to work in Australia, sharing skills and knowledge based on practices and education.

With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating Australians’ thinking on health for almost two years, we should not forget that the coronavirus isn’t the only pandemic facing the world. This year is the 40th anniversary of the identification of HIV/AIDS, which has led to the deaths of more than 30 million people worldwide.

The Australian Government is investing more $50 million in new funding to extend access to HIV treatment in Australia and to support activities that will support the health and mental wellbeing of people living with blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections.

This will include over $39 million over five years to ensure people living with HIV in Australia, who are not eligible for Medicare, can access the treatment they need.

New arrangements will be made with the states and territories to provide treatment to around 1,000 people each year through this program, commencing in July 2022.

The Government will also provide more than $11 million in new funding to Australia’s blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections peak bodies to continue their important work across the country.

The Australian Government has committed $154.4 million for a significant program of capital works for 90 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS). Working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and health services to overcome the health inequality experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and continue closing the gap in health outcomes.

ACCHS provide access to culturally safe, inclusive, comprehensive, state of the art primary health care and are staffed by dedicated skilled professionals with a deep commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. This is a critical part of helping to Close the Gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

This funding will deliver new or renovated health clinics and associated housing for health professionals, with a particular focus on small rural towns and remote communities with the poorest quality infrastructure and/or highest growth in population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

All Australians deserve affordable access to essential health care services and reliable, timely and affordable access to medicines, and as we adapt to living with COVID-19, it is a vital part of keeping us all safe.

The Government is committed to ensuring the MBS continues to reflect high quality, clinically relevant, and cost-effective medical services and technologies to improve health outcomes for Australian patients.

More than $54 million will be provided to include new and amended services, treatments and technologies on the MBS, in line with recommendations of the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC), the MBS Review Taskforce and advice from medical professional organisations.

Among the new items to be included are tests for genetically inherited conditions, including some kidney disease, heart conditions, and non-invasive prenatal testing for fetal Rhesus D genotype.

MBS items for the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will be expanded from 1 July 2022, providing Australian women with a choice to either have a cervical screening test by a clinician or to have a self-collected test. The Government’s investment of $2.2 million over four years is expected to drive an increase in participation in the NCSP.

Self-collection is just as effective in helping detect human papillomavirus and it’s expected that the number of self-collection tests will rise by almost 10,000 in 2022, growing to more than 34,000 a year by 2025.

The Australian Government will also invest $14.2 million over four years for new MBS items to subsidise scans for men with intermediate to high-risk and recurrent prostate cancer. The prostate-specific membrane antigen positron emission tomography scans support patients by providing additional information to inform treatment which can lead to improved outcomes.

It is estimated that these new MBS inclusions will result in an additional 18,600 services each year, helping thousands of men access better treatment to improve their prognosis.

From 1 March 2022, new MBS items will also be added to cover specialist or audiologist providers remotely programing auditory implants and/or sound processors via video or phone. These new permanent telehealth items will support increased access particularly for rural and remote patients.

The Australian Government is investing $20.8 million to improve access to allied heath, midwife services, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments through the MBS.

These MBS amended items include:

  • streamlined access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to services through General Practice Management Plans and Health Assessments
  • improving access to complex allied health services for children and young adults living with disabilities and pervasive developmental disorder; and
  • promoting safe clinical practice and high-quality maternity care through a restructure of intrapartum items and maternity care plans.

The Australian Government is continuing to meet its commitment to invest in all new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) that have been recommended by the medical experts on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). Since October 2013, over 2,800 new or amended medicines listings have been made on the PBS schedule at an overall investment of around $14.0 billion.

The Government has entered into new strategic agreements with Medicines Australia and the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) for the period 2022-2027, continuing its close partnership with Australia’s medicines industry to improve and guarantee access to medicines.

The Australian Government has also established a PBS New Medicines Funding Guarantee to meet the cost of future new and amended PBS listings. This will ensure that new medicines continue to be listed on the PBS.

The New Medicines Funding Guarantee and efficiencies from the new agreements’ statutory pricing reforms, will support at least $5 billion of uncapped new investment to be fully re‐invested in the PBS, ensuring all Australians continue to have the earliest possible access to new medicines over the five year terms of the agreements and beyond.

The Government will implement a Medicines Supply Security Guarantee to support companies to hold increased stock of PBS medicines in Australia that are susceptible to shortages and will undertake a review the Australia’s Health Technology Assessment (HTA) policy and methods. The Government will co-design and implement an Enhanced Consumer Engagement Process to better capture the patient voice early in the medicines assessment process.

Examples of new and amended PBS listings since the 2021‑22 Budget include:

  • cabozatinib (Cabometyx®) from 1 July 2021, for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma
  • fremanezubmab (AJOVY®) from 1 August 2021, for the treatment of chronic migraines
  • obeticholic acid (Ocaliva®) from 1 September 2021, for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis
  • ofatumumab (Kesimpta®) from 1 October 2021, for the treatment of relapsing‑ remitting multiple sclerosis
  • darolumatimide (Nubeqa®) from 1 November 2021, for the treatment of prostate cancer
  • landelumab (Takhzyro®) from 1 December 2021, for the treatment of recurring attacks of hereditary angioedema.

The ongoing quality and safety of radiation therapy in Australia will be assured with an investment of $2.5 million from the Australian Government to supply a new linear accelerator to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

The linear accelerator will be used by ARPANSA to continue its calibration and auditing of hospital radiation equipment to ensure cancer treatments are dosed correctly. The new device will replace another which is approaching its end-of-life period.

The Australian Government is also contributing $3.7 million to the 2021 Western Australia Channel 7 Telethon Trust which this year will distribute up to $62.1 million to organisations that focus on medical and social welfare of children and research into children’s diseases.

Australians living with a chronic wound will benefit from an additional $2.1 million over two years to develop an efficient model for a wound consumables scheme, to provide more equitable access to high quality and affordable wound dressings.

The Government will also continue to support the ongoing National Epidermolysis Bullosa Dressing Scheme, with $500,000 to include new dressing listings to aid people living with this painful and debilitating condition.

Ageing and Aged Care

The Australian Government’s response to the final report of Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is a five-year five-pillar reform agenda, and with additional funding of $632.6 million in the 2021–22 MYEFO update, is now worth $18.3 billion, which will deliver services grounded in respect, care and dignity for senior Australians.

The five pillars of the Government’s aged care reforms are:

  • Home Care
  • Residential Aged Care Services and Sustainability
  • Residential Aged Care Quality and Safety
  • Workforce
  • Governance.

To address loneliness faced by many people as they age, the Government has committed an additional $34.4 million to expand the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS).

The program will support more volunteers to provide companionship to senior Australians. and will expand the number of CVS volunteers by 4,348 places, bringing the total number to 17,811. This responds to responds to Recommendation 44 of the Royal Commission.

Work is underway on the design of a new Support at Home Program which will replace the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Home Care Packages program, and the Short Term Restorative Care Programme with a simpler, fairer and more transparent services that puts downward pressure on service costs and administration fees.

The Government is increasing the funding for the Disability Support for Older Australians (DSOA) program with an additional $229.3 million over two years, aligning DSOA services and prices with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The DSOA program directly benefits 2,850 senior Australians receiving disability services and support.

The Residential Aged Care Services and Sustainability pillar recognises that more than 200,000 senior Australians live in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) and investing in those services is helping increase front line care.

The Government has committed an additional $64.2 million to support a stronger aged care sector, with assistance for RACFs experiencing financial difficulty to improve their business or to exit the market in a controlled manner.

An additional $38.8 million in grants will be available to meet the existing demand for the Business Improvement Fund, for those who have already submitted applications to the oversubscribed program.

A further $23.6 million in additional funding will increase the capacity of the new Structural Adjustment Fund for 2021­–22, prior to the introduction of the new funding model in October 2022.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) will benefit from a $6.3 million investment to increase its standing as a strong, independent prudential regulator.

The funding will help ACQSC absorb some responsibilities from the Department of Health from 1 July 2023, empowering it to collect financial and prudential information, undertake risk assessment of a provider’s compliance, assess financial viability, and engage with those at risk of failure. 

The quality of care and safety are two significant concerns for senior Australians who live in a RACF, and the Australian Government reforms in Residential Aged Care Quality and Safety aim to ensure the care they receive meets their needs and their expectations.

The Government is investing $5.7 million over three years to transition responsibility for clinical care components of the Aged Care Quality Standards to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).

The ACSQHC will undertake research, sector consultation, and clinical standards development to support implementation, and develop guidance and training tools.

This change will improve outcomes in oral care, medication management, pressure injuries, wound and continence management, fall prevention and mobility assistance, infection control, and palliative care by aged care providers.

The Government is investing $27 million in the development of an ICT capability to enable information provided under existing arrangements to be used for the annual statement, additional information such as complaints to be submitted by providers, and the annual statement to be publicly available on My Aged Care.

The Australian Government is expediting the transition of younger Australians out of RACFs and into more appropriate care and accommodation, an investment of $34.8 million will extend funding for the Young People in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) System Coordinator Program to 2025.

This will provide funding certainty for the workforce and align the program with the YPIRAC strategy targets.

Apart from rare, exceptional circumstances, the Government is committed to ensuring younger people do not have to enter or live in RACFs to access necessary care.

The Government’s aged care will expand the Serious Incident Scheme (SIRS) to in-home aged care from 1 July 2022 with $44.1 million in funding to resource the ACQSC for oversight obligations, enforcement action, and supporting sector-wide education and improvement.

The change will place new obligations on in-home care providers to respond to, and report on, a range of serious incidents.

The funding will also extend to three specialist elder abuse support services to maximise protections for vulnerable senior Australians.

Australia’s aged care workforce is the engine room of the reform journey, and the Government is committed to growing the workforce with skilled, compassionate, and dedicated professionals.

New funding worth $9.1 million will extend the Aged Care Registered Nurses’ Payment, to attract and retain more highly qualified and dedicated Registered Nurses to the aged care sector.

Half-year payments (worth $1,850) are being made available to directly benefit Registered Nurses who will begin employment within the first half of the existing 12 month eligibility period.

The Government is also expanding the eligibility criteria for the additional rural and remote payment for eligible Registered Nurses employed in a MMM 3-4 region.

It’s estimated this will result in around 8,000 more additional payments over the two years of the program.

The Governance pillar of the aged care reforms ensures that the improvements made across the sector are backed by better management, oversight and accountability processes, with a clear goal of delivering higher quality and safer care for senior Australians.

The Australian Government is investing $154 million over two years towards a major upgrade of aged care information and communication technology (ICT) to improve the reporting and sharing of information with government.

Business to Government (B2G) is a near-real time platform for information exchange, to strengthen reporting and compliance monitoring. It will also reduce the administrative burden on providers and their workforce.

Initial ICT development will also be undertaken ahead of the Government’s new Support at Home program by 1 July 2023.

An Interim Inspector-General of Aged Care will be appointed with funding worth $8.8 million to assist in establish a supporting taskforce within the Department of Health.

The Inspector‑General of Aged Care will deliver increased accountability and transparency to aged care services, greater consistency of regulation, and strengthen compliance.

The Age Discrimination Commissioner will also be funded to complement the work of Interim Inspector-General of Aged Care in protecting senior’s rights.

The Australian Government’s additional commitments in the 2021–22 MYEFO update brings the total investment in the aged care reform journey in response to the final report of the Royal Commission to more than $18.3 billion, and more than $19.5 billion since the Royal Commission was established in 2018.

Prioritising Mental Health, Preventive Health and Sport

The successful Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule program has provided additional subsidised mental health sessions to more than 200,000 Australians.

The Australian Government is investing an additional $58.8 million to continue the additional sessions and eligibility for aged care residents for an additional 6 months to December 2022, bringing the total investment to more than $205.7 million since October 2020.

The Government’s commitment to mental health, particularly among young Australians can be seen through support for 140 headspace services currently operating across the country, with funding for 164 to be operating by 2025– 26, providing mental health support young people aged 12 to 25 years who have, or are at risk of, mental illness.

One of Australia’s leading crisis counselling services, Lifeline will receive $1.5 million from the Government as the demand for its life saving services have surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new funding will allow Lifeline to reach more Australians in crisis with its text messaging service, which will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Australia has a proud history of supporting those in need, and the Government knows the people evacuated from Afghanistan, including family members of Australians, need care and support as they settle into life in Australia.

This is why as part of the Government’s $27.1 million Afghan Settlement Support Package, we are providing an additional $7.9 million over two years to the Program of Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (PASTT) to provide important and targeted mental health support to Afghan evacuees and members of the Australian Afghan community.

The Australian Government is setting the agenda for the next decade in preventive health with the recent launch of the 10-year National Preventive Health Strategy.

The Strategy, along with an investment of $1.9 million puts a strong focus improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life. It aims to bring Australia’s health services from its intense focus on the treatment of illness and disease, to a future state with an increased focus on preventive health care.

The Strategy focuses on areas where proactive engagement can lead to better health outcomes, by preventing or delaying more serious illness, including nutrition, physical activity, tobacco use, immunisation, cancer screening, alcohol and other drug use, and      mental health.

The importance of cancer screening programs cannot be overstated, and the Government is providing an additional $16.6 million to continue the participant follow-up function within the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Bowel cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and the second leading cause of cancer-related death, however the screening program is estimated to have saved around 5,000 Australians a year through early detection leading to earlier treatment.

The Australian Government, through the Department of Health, will contribute $14.7 million over two years towards health-related measures which are part of the $173 million extension of National Partnership on Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment (NTRAI).

The Health Implementation Plan within the NTRAI helps deliver services in the Territory to reduce the prevalence, incidence, severity and impact of ear and oral health problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under 16 years. 

The broad NTRAI investment aligns with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, addressing 11 out of 17 Closing the Gap targets.

More than $1.4 million will be provided over two years towards mosquito control measures in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, which helps mitigate the risk of Dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses across the region.

The Government will also provide $1.2 million in 2021-22 towards improving the lives of people with alcohol and other drug dependencies through the day rehabilitation, withdrawal support and demand management services run by Lives Lived Well in Caboolture.

Positive health role models will spread preventive health messages to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities focusing on exercise, nutrition, and quitting smoking, alcohol and other drugs, with a continued investment in the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.

The funding worth $3.9 million over 4 years will help the Foundation, started by World Champion runner Rob de Castella, to recruit, train and support a group of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander runners to compete in a marathon and become healthy lifestyle advocates.

Community sport across Australia has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions on gatherings, movement and concern over exposure has kept many Australians away from the sports they love.

The Australian Government is helping to ensure community sport joins the rest of the community on the road to recovery, with an investment of $5.8 million.

The funding will support organised community sport and physical activity by expanding the Local Sporting Champions program to provide financial assistance to coaches, officials, and competitors participating in state, national or international championships.

Sport will be a significant focus for all Australians over the coming ‘green and gold decade’ capped off with the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane in 2032, and featuring a series of international showcase sporting events between now and then.

The Australian Government is growing our reputation as the pre-eminent sporting event host nation in the world through support for major international sporting events.

$5 million over two years will go towards one of road cycling’s most prestigious events - the UCI Road World Championships and associated legacy programs in Australia to target increased cycling participation among young people in regional and remote Australia, and people living with a disability.

The Australian Government has also provided $2.1 million to support our champion athletes who competed during the delayed Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games earlier this year. The funding helped cover COVID-19 quarantine associated costs for the Australian Olympic Team on their return to Australia.


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