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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5186

Mr BUTLER (Port AdelaideMinister for Mental Health and Ageing, Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Minister for Social Inclusion and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform) (12:22): I am pleased to be able to make some introductory remarks about the spending on mental health and aged care in this budget. This budget continues the very significant investment in these two portfolios initiated, for mental health, in the 2011 budget and, for aged care, through the Living Longer, Living Better reforms in the 2012 budget. I am very pleased to report that the 2013 budget continues the very substantial reform direction for aged care set out in last year's budget—the most substantial reforms to our aged-care sector since the mid-1980s, when the current system was largely constructed by the Hawke government.

It is worthwhile traversing some of the major elements of those reforms—and I confirm again that they are contained in the 2013 budget. The central theme of the aged-care reforms is to expand and reform the delivery of home care. Older Australians, directly and through their organisations, have indicated time and time again that what they want from an aged-care system is support to allow them to remain living independently in their own home for as long as possible—and, if at all possible, for the remainder of their lives. This year's budget continues the direction charted last year to expand home care packages over the next four years by about two-thirds, from 60,000 to about 100,000.

The 2013 budget also confirms the direction of overhauling the current system of delivery of home care packages—the current system of community aged-care packages. Each package will have four levels, allowing people to move more seamlessly through a continuum of care as their care needs progress. For the first time, those home care packages will be consumer directed. All of the home care packages contained in this year's Aged Care Approvals Round, or ACAR, are offered only on a consumer directed care basis and all existing packages in the market will need to be converted to consumer directed care packages by 2015.

Since the last budget, the Aged Care Financing Authority has been busily establishing new guidelines for the charging of accommodation fees in residential care where a resident has the capacity to pay an accommodation charge. The first thing the financing authority did was to develop guidelines for significant refurbishment. These would qualify an accommodation provider for a very substantial increase in their accommodation supplement, from $32 per day to $52 per day, commencing on 1 July next year. Those guidelines were the subject of very close consultation with the residential care sector, and are a substantial addition to the way in which we will be able to see continuing investment in the residential care sector into the future. ACFA, the Aged Care Financing Authority, has also established—and I have published—new guidelines around accommodation charging, provided that the legislation currently before the Senate passes so that the old distinction between high-care charging and low-care charging goes into the dustbin of history.

We also know that the workforce supplement is in the process of finalisation, with guidelines have been out for consultation with the sector. We are currently working through the submissions from the sector about the final shape of those guidelines so that they will be ready to take effect on the 1 July this year. The same process has been followed in relation to dementia supplement to pay providers 10 per cent extra for the provision of care to people with a diagnosis of dementia, whether in home care or in residential care. These guidelines will also be ready for effect on 1 July, as will guidelines in relation to a supplement for veterans experiencing mental health issues. I place on record my thanks to the support given by Minister Snowdon, his office and his department in the development of those guidelines.

I am very pleased that this budget continues the National Perinatal Depression Initiative commenced by this government in 2008: extending the funding to state and territory governments; extending funding through the ATAPS system for counselling for parents, particularly mothers experiencing such depression; and continuing funding to beyondblue for the leadership role that it has taken. It also extends funding with increases of 5.3 per cent to the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program which, people will be aware, is undergoing a substantial review at present. (Time expired)