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Launch of the Continuing Professional Development Scholarships in Aged Care, Sandown Retirement Village, Hobart.

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The Hon Julie Bishop MP Minister for Ageing

17 May 2004

Launch of the Continuing Professional Development Scholarships in Aged Care, Sandown Retirement Village, Hobart


I am absolutely delighted to have had the opportunity to visit Sandown Village. It really is the most tremendous home. Speaking to the residents as we walked around here this morning, I can tell that you are providing the highest quality care, for they truly feel loved and cared for here. It gives me great satisfaction to know that under Government policies we are able to have a home that is of world-class standard here in Hobart, both in terms of quality care, and the physical environment, the building itself.

Last week, Australia stood still for the wedding of Our Mary, and it certainly dominated the headlines. But there was another event last week. It certainly wasn’t as romantic, by any stretch of the imagination, but nevertheless the Federal Budget is of great significance to Australia. It is with great pleasure that I can go through a number of the Budget initiatives that we were able to introduce in the area of aged care.

There are three reasons why, this year, we were able to invest a record $2.2 billion, a further $2.2 billion, into aged care, coming on top of record levels of funding.

First, the Australian Government is taking a whole-of-government approach to the issue of population ageing. It is one of the most significant issues of our times. It is a fact that numerically and proportionately the number of people over the age of 65 in our community will increase dramatically over coming decades. That, of course, means there will be an demand for aged services, including aged care services. So we need to plan now to ensure that we are able to meet that increasing demand.

Secondly, we were able to invest record levels of funding this year because of the state of the economy. Through some very careful economic management, very strong economic credentials, the Government has been able to produce an economy that has low interest rates, low inflation, low unemployment, high productivity. What does that provide? A very strong and growing economy, a robust economy. We have been able to produce successive surplus Budgets, and again this year, a surplus Budget. So we have the money to spend and we are able to target it to areas of need.

Our third reason, is of course, the review into residential care, carried out by Professor Warren Hogan. I know that you would be very aware of the review undertaken by Professor Hogan, the Pricing Review. We received his final report on 5 April this year, so we were very keen to work around the clock to ensure that we could have a response to Professor Hogan’s recommendations into residential care, backed up by Budget allocations. Hence the package, which we have called Investing in Australia’s Aged Care: More Places, Better Care.

First, in relation to operating costs we were able to allocate some $877.8 million over four years by way of a conditional adjustment supplement. That means that, currently with the basic care subsidy indexed annually, we have added 1.75 per cent on top of that, so that while currently you receive $30,500 per resident on average for a subsidy, by 07-08 that will be $35,380 per resident.

What that means is that providers should be in a position to reward their staff with competitive wages, and we have made it conditional on providers offering and encouraging staff to take up training opportunities. And also to partake in periodic workforce surveys so that we can better inform ourselves as to the needs and qualifications of the workforce in aged care.

Secondly, which is obviously a matter of considerable interest, we have allocated more places, Government-subsidised places. Specifically over the next three years we will be allocating 27,900 new places across Australia. In Tasmania that means 635 new places and I will be making an announcement in relation to the allocation round for Tasmania later. So more places, giving people peace of mind that there will be a place for them if they need residential care.

On the capital side we also were able to allocate nearly $1 billion over the next four years for capital requirements to ensure that homes can refurbish and upgrade, and for the building of new homes to meet demand. About $513 million of that, half a billion dollars, will be paid to aged care providers before 30 June this year. That is a one-off payment to ensure that all providers meet 2008 building certification standards. Particularly we are focusing on ensuring that fire and safety standards are met. Our expectation in handing this half a billion dollars this financial years is that homes will use the money towards ensuring that they meet 2008 certification standards, particularly in fire and safety.

On top of that we have increased the concessional charge for concessional, transitional and respite places to $16.25 a day. Again it is money that can be used for capital purposes. We have also allowed providers to charge those who are able to contribute to the cost of their accommodation, likewise up to $16.25, so no one will be paying more than $16.25.

Over the coming decade we have anticipated the capital needs of the sector, we have analysed it to be about $10.3 billion in capital works which will be required over the next decade. Under current arrangements, that is before the Budget, $9.1 billion would have been derived in any event under current policies, that is through bonds, accommodation charges and the like. That leaves a shortfall of about $1.3 billion over the next decade. What we have done by our allocation of $1 billion over the next four years, which will be ongoing after that, is ensure that the shortfall in capital is met in its entirety, of course, with a majority of it coming from the Federal Government.

We have also have a package in relation to workforce issues. $101.4 million is allocated to better training and education opportunities. In particular, this funding that was announced in the Budget will ensure that some 15,750 places will be available for people to upgrade their skills to Enrolled Nurse level, in fact train to reach Enrolled Nurse level.

We have also got some 5,250 places over four years for medication management for Enrolled Nurses who want to undertake medication management certification. Some 1600 undergraduate places, so that we will, hopefully, attract more nurses into the aged care sector, and 1600 places over four years for aged care nurses.

Finally 8,000 places for language and literacy testing and education. We found in our recent census and survey that was undertaken by the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University that a number of the personal carers came from non-English speaking backgrounds, so we wanted to make sure that across Australia the language and literacy levels are appropriate for workers in aged care facilities.

There are a number of other initiatives that I know that will be of great interest to your financial director, your director of nursing, and others, particularly in relation to streamlining the assessment process, in ensuring that there is less paperwork in the delivery of care, and a number of other initiatives.

The reason I am here at Sandown today, apart from visiting a very fine facility, is to announce the 2005 Continuing Professional Development Scholarships for aged care nursing. This was an initiative in the 2002 Budget. We allocated about $26.3 million to aged care nursing scholarships designed to attract people into aged care nursing as a career and retain them once they had undertaken aged care nursing as a career, to ensure it is a fulfilling and rewarding and offers career advancement opportunities.

Over that time, since the Budget announcement in 2002, we have allocated some 900 aged care nursing scholarships and recently I was able to announce a further 300. In that time, 300 of the scholarships have been undergraduate and I understand that 24 of them have been taken up in Tasmania. Some 250 that we have already had on offer were for Continuing Professional Development - some 13 have been taken up in Tasmania.

Today I am announcing a further 100 Continuing Professional Development Scholarships and we hope that they will be used by students who want to take up masters courses, or in dementia mapping initiatives, in relation to work management, palliative care, a whole range of continuing professional development opportunities. We have also one place at the University of Tasmania for an honours student.

In relation to Tasmania can I say that, because these are deemed to be rural and regional scholarships all of Tasmania will be deemed to be regional for the purposes of allocating these scholarships. I am aware of the needs, the nursing needs of Tasmania, the shortage of nurses. So these new Continuing Professional Development Aged Care Nursing Scholarships for regional and rural Australia will mean Tasmanian nurses will have an opportunity to apply for these scholarships.

Applications open on 22 May. They close in mid-August. The program will be administered by the Royal College of Nursing Australia, and they do a very good job of administering these scholarships. There will be an advisory committee that will select the scholarship winners, and they are valued at $10,000 per year, so they are quite valuable scholarships. They are intended to ensure that those who are currently working in aged care services in regional and rural Australia have the opportunity to enhance their career. Without our aged care workforce we would not be able to deliver the quality of care that Government, and providers and the community expect.

I think it is most fitting that I be here at Sandown Village to make this announcement, meeting a number of your staff here today, Peter, indicates that you have a very very fine workforce here. They deserve support and opportunities and hopefully the partnership between the Australian Government, through our funding and our initiatives, and the providers, will enable us to meet that vision of a world class system of

aged care in this country that imposes the highest quality, that is accessible, that is also affordable, and that meets the individual needs of older Australians.

On that note I announce the 100 new Continuing Professional Development Scholarships in Aged Care for rural and regional Australia.