Cessnock Advertiser Column

Weekly Column

Last Wednesday I attended ANZAC Day Services in Cessnock, Abermain, Weston, Kurri Kurri and Maitland where I delivered the keynote speech for the 11.00am Service. Numbers were up everywhere which again shows more and more people (particularly young people) are developing a stronger appreciation of the meaning of the day.
Thank you to all our hard working RSL Sub Branch members and the ladies auxiliary members who support them. ANZAC Day could not be so successful without them. A special mention for Grant Collins who once again added a special touch at the Cessnock Dawn Service with his performance of The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. Lest We Forget!
Under landmark changes to the aged care system, more people will get to keep their home, and more people will get to stay in their home as they receive aged care. The Prime Minister recently announced a 10 year plan to reshape aged care, beginning 1 July 2012.
The government will deliver the $3.7 billion Living Longer Living Better planto deliver more choice, easier access and better care for older Australians and their families.
To make it easier for older Australians to stay in their home while they receive care, we will:
  • Increase the number of Home Care Packages- from 59,876 to almost 100,000 (99,669).
  • Provide tailored care packages to people receiving home care, and new funding for dementia care.
  • Cap costs, so that full pensioners pay no more than the basic fee.
To make sure more people get to keep their family home, and to prevent anyone being forced to sell their home in an emergency fire sale, we will:
  • Provide more choice about how to pay for care. Instead of a bond which can cost up to $2.6 million and bears no resemblance to the actual cost of accommodation, you will be able to pay through a lump sum or a periodic payment, or a combination of both.
  • Give families time to make a decision about how to pay, by introducing a cooling-off period.
  • Cap care costs, with nobody paying more than $25,000 a year and no more than $60,000 over a lifetime.
For the first time, we will also introduce fairness into the payment system. Right now, pensioners often pay more than people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and a private income. As a result, pensioners are subsidising the accommodation and care costs of millionaires.
From now on the system will be fairer, based on capacity to pay. The amount you pay for aged care services will be capped and underpinned by tightened means testing, meaning older Australians will not be forced into a fire sale of the family home in order to get access to aged care.
This will not affect the million people already in the system, who will not pay a cent more than they would have under the current arrangements.
To ensure there are immediate improvements as well, the government will also:
·         Increase residential aged care places from 191,522 to 221,103
·         Fund $1.2 billion to improve the aged care workforce through a Workforce Compact.
  • Provide more funding for dementia care in aged care, and more support for services.
  • Establish a single gateway to all aged care services, to make them easier to access and navigate.
  • Set stricter standards, with greater oversight of aged care.
This package reflects in large part what older Australians, their families and carers, and aged care providers have told us is wrong with the system, along with the valuable input of the Productivity Commission report, Caring for Older Australians.
These reforms will enable older Australians to get the help they both need and deserve so they can remain living in their own homes for as long as possible. Our plan will help older Australians keep their own home for as long as they want.
They replace an aged care system designed a quarter of a century ago and which is now ill-equipped to meet the needs of retiring baby boomers and their parents who are living longer and healthier lives.
Implementation of the reforms will be overseen by a new Aged Care Reform Implementation Council. The new reform package will be implemented in stages to enable providers and consumers to gain early benefits of key changes and have time to adapt and plan for further reform over the 10 years.

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