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Federal Government to support older Australians to stay in their own homes longer

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Media Statement - S31/98

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Other Media Statements [Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government] [Minister for Transport and Regional Development!

[Michael Ronaldson, Parliamentary Secretary] [Departmental]

M e d i a

R e l e a s eTHE HON ALEX S( Minister for Regional Development, Territories and I 2 April 1998 S31/98


"The Prime Minister, John Howard has again kept his word and listened to older Australians who live in regional and rural areas with the announcement this morning o f the $270 million Staying at Home package. These measures provide care to older people where they want it, in their own homes and when they need it," said the Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, Alex Somlyay.

He said the Federal Government has been listening to the concerns o f older Australians and has delivered the flexibility that they desperately seek, the chance to live in their own homes for as long as possible with appropriate care and support.

The package has additional elements, which will:

• deliver expanded respite services for carers; • deliver assistance to ageing carers o f adults with disabilities through the provision of alternative accommodation for their children; • deliver additional support for Aged Care Assessment teams to ensure people get

appropriate care; and • deliver income support for more carers through reform to the Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefit.

Mr Somlyay noted that only 10% o f elderly Australians are admitted to nursing home care with the vast number wanting to stay put in their familiar and friendly neighbourhood near family, friends, shops and services.

"This message from ageing Australians is especially strong in regional and rural areas where maintaining your lifestyle and independence in your own home and local community is a primary desire. 04/06/1998

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"This government will make staying at home with the benefit o f community care in a regional or country town a realistic option for those who choose it.

"The Community Aged Care Package (CACP) has been substantially expanded with an injection o f $92 million over 4 years more than doubling the number o f places available within three years instead o f six. This will make services available to many more ageing people and support them if they wish to remain at home.

"To show the extent of the scheme across regional and rural areas, the target is to have 10 places per 1,000 people over the age o f 70 years available by June 2001," said Mr Somlyay.

He said the initiatives give respect and a fair go to carers of our elderly and disabled. An additional $30 million over 4 years will be made available to extend the network o f Carer Respite centres.

"Since their introduction by this government in 1996/97 some 58 respite centres have been established across Australia.

"Some 40 o f the 58 centres are located in rural and regional centres.

"This initiative will see an extra 15 Carer Respite Centres added to the 58 already up and running. Expressions o f interest will be called for the establishment o f the new centres and I urge organisations in regional Australia to make further strong bids for the new centres to fill gaps now evident," Mr Somlyay said.

He said the introduction o f a new Carers Allowance with more flexible eligibility rules run through Centrelink offices in regional centres will be welcomed by the extra 14,000 carers who will now be eligible. The cost for widening the eligibility is $92 million over 4 years.

"This change gets rid o f the annoying and unfair conditions which saw people caring for those who need constant supervision, but not necessarily nursing care, being excluded.

"This Carers Allowance will be available to all carers looking after someone who is disabled, frail or chronically ill," said Mr Somlyay.

The Minister congratulated his colleague, Hon Warwick Smith MP on the Staying at Home programme that so comprehensively gives flexibility and choice to older Australians and carers o f our elderly and the disabled.

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Further information: Graeme Hal let (Minister's Office) 02-6277 7060

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