Constituency Statement – Aged Care
Mr PITT (Hinkler—Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment) (10:34): I would like to present to the Federation Chamber this morning some of the facts about aged-care funding to my electorate—and these are the facts, not the beat-up. Federal government funding for aged care in Hinkler has actually increased by almost $3.7 million from 2014-15 to 2015-16. In fact, overall federal government funding in aged care will grow by six per cent each year for the next four years, with an estimated $12½ billion provided for residential aged care in 2017-18. The residential care funding per resident for the sector has increased. It has gone up from $63,450 in 2015-16 to $65,456 in 2016-17. In the most recent aged-care approvals round funding—and this is the absolute reality—my electorate has received an additional $37 million since 2014. That includes $11.4 million for aged-care services for an additional 174 residential care places—144 of those at The Lakes aged care in Bundaberg, which is a new service; 30 residential care places for Kalkie in Bundaberg, which are additional places. It includes $17 million for funding for aged-care services in the 2015 round—144 places for BUPA Bundaberg at Avoca, which is a new service; 90 residential care places for Regis Hervey Bay, which is a new service; and 44 residential care places for Anglicare Meilene in Bundaberg east. And it includes $8.6 million in the 2014 round—32 home-care packages for Churches of Christ in Bundaberg, a new service; 25 home-care packages for Kepnock Grove Retirement Centre; 96 retirement care places for Carinity at Bargara, a new service; and 30 residential care places for Ozcare in Hervey Bay. This is an extensive increase.
For those who are concerned about aged care who do have problems, and there are always challenges in large services, please use the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800550552 or via their website. They are there to receive complaints. I do have a complaint of my own, and that is around ACAT assessments. Some years ago, I stood in this chamber and said that the level of ACAT assessments in my electorate was not high enough and that it was taking far too long for people who are in very difficult circumstances. As I’m sure you know, Madam Deputy Speaker Vamvanikou, when a decision is made by an individual to move into residential aged care, it is very, very difficult. The waiting list at the moment has moved out to as long as six months. Six months is completely unacceptable to me. The Commonwealth engages state and territory governments to provide those assessments. We subsidise those services through the Aged Care Act 1997. We cannot continue to have this type of extension for people who are in a very difficult situation—we simply cannot. I say to the Labor government in Queensland: just because we are in a regional area, that should not matter; get yourself sorted. We need these assessments completed. I will be meeting with Community Care Network in Bundaberg next month to see just how significant this problem is.