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UnitingCare Australia welcomes Australia Institute report on policy implications of Australia's ageing population.



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Australia

UnitingCare Australia welcomes Australia Institute report on policy implications of Australia’s ageing population

UnitingCare Australia described The Australia Institute report Population Ageing - Crisis or Transition by Dr Pamela Kinnear as ‘a positive contribution to the debate that Australia has to have if we are to continue to have an aged care sector in which we can take pride as a society.’

The acting National Director of UnitingCare Australia, Rev. Gregor Henderson, said that ‘the report correctly analyses the ageing of our population as an issue which, if addressed effectively now by our policy makers, can be easily afforded.’

Mr Henderson noted that sound research, effective strategic planning, and good public policy are essential prerequisites to ensure that resources are effectively spent on maintaining a high quality of life for older Australians, and reduce the risk of much more expensive hospital care. ‘International experience demonstrates that meeting the critical social responsibility of ensuring that resources are effectively expended on maintaining a high quality of life for the elderly, and reduce the risk of much more expensive hospital and high care options, does not have to be costly in real terms’ said Mr Henderson.

Mr Henderson noted that ‘the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD - the ‘club’ of developed countries) advises that in advanced countries such as Australia, unless policies effectively address this issue now, the costs will rapidly escalate. The OECD recommends an approach which better integrates the funding and provision of health and aged care.’

‘The problem,’ Mr Henderson observed, ‘is that the current policy debate in Australia around aged care is too often marked by point scoring, and not effective policy making. For example, aged care facilities are currently struggling to attract and retain quality staff.’

‘In common with other stakeholders in aged care, UnitingCare Australia strongly advocates linking the funding of residential aged care facilities to a benchmark standard of care. This would implement the recommendation by the Productivity Commission in its 1999 report, Nursing Home Subsidies,’ Mr Henderson said.

‘From our perspective as a major provider of aged care services, we know that the indicators for the benchmark standard of care will need to be developed if we are to get the policy mix right to avoid a future crisis in addressing the needs of our ageing population. UnitingCare Australia has already commenced national research into this crucial issue, and stands ready to assist government to establish this benchmark,’ Mr Henderson said.

UnitingCare is Australia’s largest welfare network, which gives expression to the Uniting Church’s commitment to supporting individuals, families and communities by providing caring services. The UnitingCare network is one of the largest providers of residential and community-based aged care services in Australia.

Contacts: Rev. Gregor Henderson, mobile 0418 770 622 phone, 02 6290 2160 bh

Mr Bruce Shaw, Senior Policy Officer, mobile 0438 628 182 phone, 02 6290 2160 bh

Media Release 17 December 2001