Our aged care system is currently world class. However, people are living longer thanks to better health and better health care. The Australian Government currently spends more than $14 billion a year on aged care, and this will increase to approximately $17.5 billion by 2016-17.
We need to make some fundamental changes, now, to ensure the system:
- is sustainable and affordable
- offers choice and puts control back into the hands of consumers
- encourages businesses to invest and grow
- provides diverse and rewarding career options.
Moving towards consumer-directed care is a big part of the changes we’re making to the aged care system. It means people will have greater choice, and care will be based on needs.
The traditional image of aged care is often associated with residential aged care, but most people want to stay independent, remain in their home and connected to family and community for much longer. Our investment in home support and home care packages means that people will have greater choice and flexibility when it comes to home-based care and support.
Aged care reforms are being progressively implemented in three phases over 10 years, so our aged care system can be sustainable and affordable, and be the best possible system for all Australians.
2012-13 and 2013-14
Years one and two delivered immediate, urgently needed improvements while laying the groundwork for further reform. We introduced the new Home Care Packages and supplements in both home care and residential care, My Aged Care and a national contact centre began operations, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency was established, and the Aged Care Pricing Commission was also launched. For more information about changes already implemented, see What has been achieved so far?
2014-15 and 2015-16
Years three and four aim to significantly improve access and choice for consumers, and strengthen system sustainability. We will establish the framework to undertake an independant five year review, and we are working with the sector to identify and develop the reforms required over the next five years.
2016-17 to 2021-22
Changes to be implemented in this phase will be developed in consultation with the aged care sector. The legislation mandates a five-year review be undertaken to look at the impact of reforms to date and where we need to take the system in the future.
By 2022, our vision is that Australia’s aged care system will:
- be sustainable and affordable, long into the future
- provide diverse and rewarding career options
- encourage aged care businesses to invest and grow
- offer greater choice, with control in the hands of consumers
- support people to stay at home, and part of their communities, for as long as possible.
We have already implemented the following improvements to Australia’s aged care system:
- More support for older people to stay independent and in their own home through more home care packages to meet their needs.
- People have greater choice and flexibility for how they pay for accommodation and services, with 28 days to decide how they would like to pay.
- Transparent accommodation prices and services, with all residential aged care providers required to publish the maximum amount they charge for accommodation and extra services.
- A new means test in residential care to help determine a person’s fair contribution, if any, to their care and accommodation. New means test arrangements also apply to home care.
- New capping arrangements help make the system more affordable overall for individuals.
- National Aged Care Reform Roadshow visited each state and territory in May and June 2014 to talk about the 1 July 2014 changes, and Commonwealth Home Support Program.
- Removal of the distinction between high and low care in residential care.
- Expansion of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Care Program.
- Expansion of the National Care Advocacy Program.
- Expansion of the Community Visitors Scheme.
- Expansion of the National Respite for Carers Program.
- Expansion of the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged Program.
- Home care packages and the commencement of consumer directed care – the Home Care Packages Program Guidelines are now available
- New dementia and Veterans’ supplements – the Dementia and Veterans' Supplements Eligibility Guidelines are now available
- Introduction of the Homelessness supplement
- Introduction of the My Aged Care website
- Establishment and expansion of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency
- Establishment of the Aged Care Pricing Commissioner
- Strengthened powers of the Aged Care Commissioner
The Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 and supporting subordinate legislation came into effect on 1 July 2014.
Further Information on aged care legislation can be found on the Aged Care Reform Legislation page.