Federal Budget Review: Disability & Aged Care

There is good news for those who are still patiently waiting for a Home Care Package to be allocated to them. The Treasurer made big promises for the Aged Care sector and said the Government would prioritise caring for older Australians.

And to this point, an additional 14,000 Home Care Packages would be released over a four-year period. The announcement of these additional Packages is very welcomed and at Lifebridge we are excited by the commitment given to in-home aged care. With an ageing population it is somewhat comforting to see focus being placed, where it is needed.

Australians are now expected to live almost ten years longer than they were 50 years ago. This move by the Government seeks to maximise the opportunities that a longer life brings.

What’s less than pleasing however, is that there are still are over 100,000 Australians in the queue to receive a Home Care Package. There is a real need to reduce the wait times for aged individuals, their family members and their carers, so that they can receive the services they need now and not at a time when it’s too late.

These services are fundamental for thousands of Australians who require additional support to remain in their homes.

Looking at Disability Services sector, the Government has committed $43 billion of Commonwealth money over the next four years for the NDIS. This is just over half the $83.2 billion cost of the scheme over this period, consistent with the Commonwealth’s share.

In a Government statement, “Funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is in place and always will be, ensuring that Australians living with disability can access the lifetime care and support they need.”

In supporting the roll-out of the NDIS, the Government is also committing over $64 million over 3 years to establish an NDIS Jobs and Market Fund. The purpose of which is to raise awareness of NDIS Job opportunities, overcome market barriers, address service difficulties in rural and remote areas and help businesses build their capacity.

While its expected this fund will help, it will require additional support to more closely align growth with demand.

For those who receive supports but are ineligible for the NDIS, the Department of Social Services will establish additional continuity of support arrangements at a cost of $92 million over 5 years. The Budget says that “eligible recipients will receive a level of support that is consistent with that which they currently receive.”

There are five separate elements:

  1. The programs Better Start, Helping Children with Autism, Work-Based Personal Assistance, Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children, Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker Program, Australian Disability Enterprises, and Outside School Hours Care for Teenagers will cease mid-2019. People receiving support from these programs who are ineligible for the NDIS will have access to funding to enable them to continue to receive assistance.
  2. People who are 65 years and over, not an NDIS participant and need access to Auslan will have continued access to the Auslan Booking Service.
  3. The Mobility Allowance will cease in mid-2020. People receiving it at that time (who are not NDIS-eligible) will be grandfathered and continue to receive it but there will be no new entrants. The Government hopes that this change will enable parliament to approve a Bill that is encountering resistance.
  4. People receiving assistance from Partners in Recovery, Personal Helpers and Mentors, and Day to Day Living support will continue to do so through arrangements being put in place with the Primary Health Networks.
  5. Four carers programs will be incorporated into the Integrated Carer Support Services.

Some other key facts:

NDIS in states and territories – Over the coming year, state and territory governments will benefit from the transfer of almost $3.4 billion from the DisabilityCare Australia Fund – established in 2014 to assist governments to implement the NDIS.

Carers Allowance – The Carers Allowance will be means-tested for the first time, with the government setting a $250,000 income test threshold. The money saved will be directed to Integrated Carer Support Service consisting of early intervention for carers.

Mental health – There will be an increase of $338M over four years in mental health funding, which will focus on suicide prevention, research and older Australians.

NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission – $43M will establish the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. This funding will establish the national office and a regional office for NSW and SA.

If you would like more information about what this budgetary announcement means or would like to speak about how this may impact you, please contact Lifebridge on 1800 043 186.