What the 2024 Federal Budget means for older Australians

May 15, 2024
In an effort to understand the focal points this year's Budget, Starts at 60 has compiled a comprehensive guide to the measures that will have the greatest impact for older Australians. Source: Getty Images.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered Labor’s third budget on Tuesday, May 14, and while much of the focus has been on cost of living relief measures, there were several measures that aim to improve the quality of life and address the unique needs of older Australians.

Whether it be $3.5 billion in energy bill relief, the freezing of deeming rates, keeping medicine cheaper or helping with rising rent prices there were several areas in the Budget where older Australians stand to benefit.

While delivering his Budget speech, Chalmers this year’s Budget was one for the “here‑and‑now”.

“It’s a responsible Budget that helps people under pressure today – and invests in the promise and potential of the more prosperous future we can make together,” Chalmers said.

In an effort to understand the focal points this year’s Budget, Starts at 60 has compiled a comprehensive guide to the measures that will have the greatest impact for older Australians.

Cost of Living

As it has been for several years now, cost of living was high on the agenda for this year’s Budget as the nation continues to struggle with the rising costs of day-to-day expenses.

In an effort to alleviate rising energy prices, the Albanese Government has committed $3.5 billion to offer a $300 rebate on energy costs for all Australian households. From July 1, 2024, all households will see the rebate automatically applied to their electricity bills

For seniors in Australia grappling with soaring rental costs, there will be a 10 per cent boost in Rent Assistance for the 2024-2025 financial year.

Furthermore, deeming rates will remain unchanged for an additional year, benefitting  876,000 income support recipients.

Aged Care

This year’s Budget also saw a $2.2 billion committment to strengthen the quality of aged care services for older Australians.

As part of the package;

  • $111.0 million will aim to improve the capability of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
  • $88.4 million to continue to attract and retain workers into the aged care sector.
  • $1.4 billion will be dedicated to upgrading systems and digital infrastructure across the aged care sector.

Cheaper medicines 

Ensuring cheaper medicines for pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Cardholders was also on the card for this year’s Budget with the $1.2 billion Strengthening Medicare package.

As part of the package, $318 million will be invested over five years to keep medicines cheaper, with up to a five-year freeze to the cost of PBS prescriptions for pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Cardholders.

While considerable investment was made to make improvements in areas such as aged care and easing cost of living pressues,  OPAN CEO Craig Gear claimed the Budget “should have done more for older people”.

“We are disappointed to see the Budget Papers indicate that the new Aged Care Act will commence on 1 July 2025, rather than this year which we have strongly advocated for,” Gear said.

“The current wait times for Home Care Packages is at unacceptable levels. The additional 24,100 Home Care Packages are welcomed and provide further relief, but more needs to be done to deliver an integrated and streamlined aged care system that supports older people at home – delivering care based on their needs and delivered at the time they need it.

“OPAN also welcomes the $531.4m additional funding to roll out those packages as well as the $48.4 million investment in Veterans’ Home Care and Community Nursing – recognising that older people and Veterans want to remain at home and connected to their communities.

“However, we are disappointed there is no additional growth funding to reduce wait times for entry level support in the aged care system and that unspent Commonwealth Home Support Programme funds will be reallocated to other aged care programs.”

While Gear believes some areas in the budget fell short, he welcomed the funding boost for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

“The boost of funding for the Commission will enhance its capability as a regulator, but there needs to be independent oversight and handling of complaints,” Gear said.



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