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Minister's bed offer rejected.



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Margaret May MP

Federal Member for McPherson Shadow Minister for Ageing

MEDIA RELEASE

30 October 2008

MINISTER’S BED OFFER REJECTED

Shadow Minister for Ageing Margaret May said Australia’s aged care industry was on the brink of declining into freefall because of inadequate funding and uncertainty about future funding.

Mrs May said: “The current situation facing aged care in Australia is unprecedented.

“For the first time, we have providers boycotting the current Aged Care Approvals Round.

“The significance of this boycott must be seen in context as historically there has been stiff competition for bed licences.

“The writing was on the wall last year when places in Tasmania and Western Australia were under-subscribed - the first time ever there has been an under-subscription of places.

“Now we have the unusual situation of an alliance of respected Queensland operators not only boycotting the current Aged Care Approvals Round but also considering handing back licences from previous rounds.

“Other providers around Australia are also considering handing back licences.

“We also have the situation of providers around Australia making Board decisions not to apply for bed licences because the sector is financially unviable.

“The message is clear but the Minister for Ageing (the Hon Justine Elliot) is not listening - and that is of huge concern because the situation will go from bad to worse.

“The provision of aged care as its presently delivered is unsustainable and the impact of current Government policy is driving many providers away from the sector.

“The ageing of our population is the biggest social issue that Australia faces and the public policy settings are not in place to meet that challenge.

“Currently there are 2.8m people aged 65 and over, ie 13.4% of the population. By 2047 this will balloon out to 7.2m people ie 25.3% of the population.

“The aged dependency ratio, (the proportion of people aged over 65 to people of traditional working age, 15-64) is projected to increase from almost 20% in 2007 to over 42% by 2047.

“The challenges are significant but the Rudd Government is doing nothing to address the situation and is offering no solutions.

“Its time Minister Elliot came clean with the Australian people and faced up to the reality of the situation confronting the aged care industry.

“Providers are not investing in aged care infrastructure at a time when demand for services is burgeoning.

“The way things are unfolding, frail, older Australians won’t have a roof over their heads in future.

“Where are the Rudd Government’s priorities?

“Rash and ill-conceived decisions are a hallmark of the Rudd Government.

“I call on the Rudd Government to start making decisions in the interests of older Australians, face up to the challenges of an ageing population and provide funding and solutions that will ensure the future welfare of older Australians”, Mrs May said.

Media Contact: Krystyna Homik 0408 739 273