Scott Morrison has only been in office as prime minister for a matter of weeks, but he has wasted no time in shifting some of his cabinet’s focus towards the older population of Australia.
Minister for Seniors and Aged Care Ken Wyatt had two big announcements this week, revealing that a whopping $106 million will be pumped into aged care, after a reform bill was passed in the lower house on Tuesday, as well as a renewed commitment to increase the number of aged care workers across Australia.
The 66-year-old frontbencher said the funding boost will be used to ensure “better facilities, better care and better standards in aged care”, while the newly established Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will be handed a further $16 million to police quality across facilities and deal with complaints and audits.
“Older Australians deserve our respect and they should receive the very best care available,” he said in a statement, alongside Health Minister Greg Hunt. “The Morrison Government is committed to keeping Australians safe and this includes as they age.”
The funding will be in addition to the $32.6 million that was announced in May for the Aged Care Commission, which streamlines all issues within the sector and reports directly to Minister Wyatt who admitted that some providers “have not been up to scratch”.
He added: “Our message is clear – any organisation or person doing the wrong thing will be found. Sub-standard care will not be tolerated, including the option to shut down an operator doing the wrong thing.
“This will be the first upgrade of aged care standards in more than 20 years.”
On Thursday, Wyatt also announced that the government has plans to triple the number of aged care workers across the country by 2050, announcing the publication of a new expert report created by the Aged Care Workforce taskforce, titled A matter of care – a strategy for Australia’s aged care workforce.
The report aims to help the sector enhance the quality of life of senior Australians in aged care, as well as changing attitudes towards careers in the sector, with Wyatt saying that “a proud and professional workforce is the foundation for quality aged care”.
He added: “We need to almost triple our aged care staff by 2050 which means we must make caring a career of choice, with clear professional pathways, high community appreciation and strong self-respect.”