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Labor's $467 million plan to tackle the aged care crisis.

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Kim Beazley - Labor's $467 Million Plan To Tackle The Aged Care Crisis Monday, 15 October 2001

ALP News Statements

Labor's $467 Million Plan To Tackle The Aged Care Crisis Kim Beazley - Leader of the Opposition

Media Statement - 13 October 2001

A Labor Government will spend $467 million to address the crisis in aged care and to ensure our frail aged are cared for with respect and dignity.

The package I am announcing today will guarantee older Australians can get a nursing home bed in their local community when they need one and that our aged receive high quality care. It will deliver real beds, more care funding, more nurses and better care to our elderly.

Labor's commitment to Australia's aged includes:

A $287 million investment to get 'phantom' beds built. ● Increased funding of $180 million to fund quality care. ●

How we care for our elderly says much about the society we are. The Howard Government's aged care system has failed older Australians and placed families and public hospitals under immense pressure. Bronwyn Bishop's legacy is a national shortage of more than 12,000 aged care beds, longer waiting lists, fewer nurses and real cuts to care funding.

Getting 'phantom' beds built

Labor's first priority will be to deliver the 12,000 aged care beds that the frail aged on lengthy waiting lists need. I am today committing to an immediate investment of $287 million to turn Bronwyn Bishop's 'phantom' beds into real beds.

In addition to the capital funding already in the forward estimates ($63 million over four years), Labor will provide:

$200 million in interest-free capital loans to get new beds built in areas where there are shortages. ● $50 million in interest-free capital loans to build better housing options for young people living in ●

nursing homes.

$37 million in direct capital grants to build up to 1000 long-stay respite beds, freeing up aged care beds for people needing permanent residential care. ●

A $180 million increase to fund quality care

Inadequate care funding under the Howard Government has made the provision of quality care unviable for many providers, and the aged care system is struggling to attract and retain qualified staff.

To guarantee high quality care for our frail aged and to stop nurses leaving, Labor will develop and implement a National Benchmark of Care. Under Labor, the level of care subsidies will be directly linked to the cost of providing benchmark levels of care.

The benchmark will take two years to develop, but Labor will increase care funding in the interim. The combined effect will be an increase in care funding of $180 million over four years. This will comprise:

$109.2 million over four years to improve pay and conditions for the aged care workforce, with a focus on tackling the wages gap between nurses in aged and acute care. ●

$18.3 million over three years to ensure that real funding to nursing homes in Victoria and Tasmania is maintained. ●

$52.5 million in 2004-05 under the National Benchmark of Care. ●

Under Labor's plan to tackle the aged care crisis, I also guarantee:

Surprise inspections of all nursing homes at least once a year. ● Better-coordinated community care services and the maintenance of budgeted growth in community care funding. ●

Measures to keep nurses in the aged care sector. ● The delivery of appropriate staffing levels on every shift. ● Measures to drive bad providers out of the aged care industry. ● The cutting of red tape to free up four million hours of nursing time for the care of residents. ●

Labor's plan is the most comprehensive aged care policy in Australia's history. It needs to be. After five years of neglect, funding cuts and ministerial incompetence, our frail aged, their families and our hospitals are saying enough is enough.

This plan will put the care back into aged care. It will ensure our frail aged can get a nursing home bed when and where they need one. Labor's guarantee is that all our elderly will be cared for with respect and dignity. Unlike John Howard, Labor believes older Australians deserve nothing less.

Kim Beazley's Plan for Aged Care

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.