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More choice and care for older Australians at home.

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The Hon Julie Bishop MP Minister for Ageing


Authorised by Julie Bishop • Parliament House • Canberra ACT 2600 • Tel: (02) 6277 7280 • Fax: (02) 6273 4138 ---

1 October 2004 JB198/04

More Choice And Care For Older Australians At Home

A re-elected Coalition will give older Australians more choice to remain at home and in their community by providing more financial support and respite for their carers, the Federal Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, said today.

“It is fitting that this announcement is made today on International Day of Older Persons,” Ms Bishop said.

“The Coalition’s initiatives to recognise senior Australians - their needs and their carers - is only possible with a strong Australian economy.

“The Coalition has delivered successive Budget surpluses and paid off $73 billion of Labor’s debt through eight years of disciplined and responsible economic management. We have invested those savings into services for Australians, including the extra $461 million in financial support for carers, and the $2.2 billion record aged care funding package, delivered in the 2004 Budget.”

A re-elected Coalition will help carers continue their vital work by providing increased financial support and respite, including: • increasing the hours carers can participate in activities such as work or study, to 25 hours per week without losing eligibility for payment;

• enabling up to 5,000 carers to obtain an extra 480 hours of employment-related respite per year; • doubling the number of high care residential respite days by 2007-08; • purchasing extra overnight respite in cottage-style community homes to enable up to 2,000

carers to have three days of respite per week for 12 weeks a year; and • providing supplements for 176 extra respite places in Multipurpose Services in rural, regional and remote areas across the nation.

A re-elected Coalition will also exempt accommodation bonds in residential aged care from the Social Security and Veterans’ Affairs assets test. This measure will provide older Australians with peace of mind about their pension entitlements when they move into hostel

level residential care.

“These initiatives come on top of the Prime Minister’s recent announcement to make dementia a National Health priority and increase support for people with dementia to remain at home,” Ms Bishop said.

“The Coalition recognises that for older Australians and people with disabilities remaining independent at home is only possible with the enormous commitment, love and support provided by carers.”

The Howard Government has been working to meet the choice of growing numbers of older Australians to remain at home, through significant increases to community aged care services, and record funding to the States and Territories for disability services. In addition, the Coalition has: • Increased Commonwealth funding for Home and Community Care, such as Meals on

Wheels, by more than 80 per cent since 1996. In December 2003 there were more than 700,000 people receiving assistance through HACC, compared with around 375,000 in 1995-96; • Increased funding for Community Aged Care Packages, which provide low level aged care at home, by more than 820 per cent since 1996 - there are now more than 30,000 people receiving help at home through a package, compared with just 4,400 in 1996; and • Introduced the Extended Aged Care At Home program, which provides high level aged care at home.

“We have also provided more opportunities for older Australians to leave acute care hospital wards and receive rehabilitation services after a hospital stay through our Pathways Home program, and the 2000 new transitional aged care places announced in the Budget,” Ms Bishop said.

“Through these measures, the Coalition is delivering on our vision of a world class system of aged care that provides high quality, affordable and accessible services to meet the individual needs and choices of older Australians.

“In contrast, in 13 years of Government Labor neglected aged care, left office with a 10,000 aged care place shortage, failed to introduce national legislated care standards and refused to act when an independent report found nursing homes delivering poor quality care.”

Labor still has no aged care policy.