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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4953

Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (19:30): The first part of the motion congratulates the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing on the fantastic aged-care package that he has announced—Living Longer, Living Better Aged Care Reform. I would like to bring to the attention of the House the amount of work that has gone into the development of this package which is going to change the landscape of aged care in our country. The minister commissioned a report by the Productivity Commission which was released in August last year. Since the release of the report, there has been lengthy consultation. The minister has travelled the countryside talking to groups to get their input into the proposal that was put forward by the Productivity Commission. The report, Caring For Older Australians, was well received in the community but, following the consultation, the minister came up with the package that has been introduced.

There was a lot of misinformation put out prior to the release of the final package. I have spoken to a number of groups within my electorate and they were so pleased when they heard the details of the package. It is a package that makes it easier for older Australians to stay in their homes while they receive care. There will be an increase in the number of home-care packages. I am sure members on both sides of the House support this package which was funded in this year's budget and will take effect in 2014. It is going to increase the number of home-care packages from 59,876 to 99,669. It provides tailored care packages for people to receive in their home and there will be new funding for dementia. The packages will be designed to meet the needs of the individual. It will be person-centred care, the kind of aged-care package older Australians deserve. They should be treated with dignity as well as having a package that meets their needs.

There is going to be a cap on costs so that full pensioners will pay no more than the basic fee. This legislation makes sure that people can keep the family home. That was something that older Australians, pensioners, have been most concerned about for a very long time. I am sure that every member of this House has been visited by a family member or an older person going into an aged-care facility who is worrying about the fact that they have got to sell their family home. This legislation will provide choice about how to pay for the care—instead of bonds, which can cost up to $2.6 million and bear no resemblance to the actual accommodation. I know that, even within my own electorate, there is a great variation in the bonds that people pay, and there is really no formula for ensuring that people only pay the level of bond that they need to. It gives a family time to make a decision about how they want to pay. It caps the costs, with no-one paying more than $25,000 a year and no-one paying more than $60,000 in their lifetime—and that is really important. Under this package, there will be $1.9 billion delivered for better access to aged-care services, $1.2 billion over five years to tackle critical shortages in the aged-care workforce, $80.2 million to improve aged-care links with the health system, $54.8 million to support carers, $268.4 million to tackle the nation's dementia epidemic—and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing is currently undertaking an inquiry into that—and $192 million to support the diverse care of Australia's ageing population. Put that together with the My Aged Care website and the dedicated hotline that is going to be set up for any complaints related to aged care. I commend this motion to the House, and I just know that members on the other side of this House will be supporting this motion, because they care about older people in their electorates. On this side, we know how important that is. (Time expired)