As the Australian public continue to digest the impact from the Federal Government’s 2018 Budget Announcement, the overall implications for the disability sector (National Disability Insurance Scheme or NDIS) and aged care sector appear to be quite positive – for providers and participants alike. We’ve tried to cover some key areas that service providers should be aware of.
The Aged Care sector, in particular, will receive a huge financial boost to manage Australia’s ageing population and ever-increasing demand for in-home care services. There is still scepticism as to whether this commitment is only scratching the surface when thinking about the real demands on the sector in the future.
Increased demand for in-home care services
The budget provides $1.6 billion over four years for 14,000 people to stay in their homes rather than nursing homes. The funding boost means close to 74,000 people will be able to access home care packages by mid-2022.
Increased demand for mental health services
For those who are in a nursing home, the Government is promising $83 million to address the drastic shortage of mental health services in residential aged care facilities.
Improving the quality of providers and standard of care they deliver
- The Government will establish an independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission in January 2019, bringing together the functions of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. This measure is aimed at holding providers more accountable and empowering Australians who use their services.
- Just over $250m has been allocated to helping to safeguard rights and protect people from abuse.
- $50m has been allocated to help providers meet new standards.
Access to services by Australia’s Indigenous people
A commitment of over $105m to improve access to aged care facilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities.
The main piece of positive news for the NDIS was more related to the Federal Government’s funding commitment and provides real confidence for disability advocates. It is however still hard to ignore the long-term challenge facing the Scheme where Government services and supports are struggling to keep up due to the fast pace of its rollout.
In the weeks leading up to the 2018 Budget Announcement, there was significant concern from disability advocates that the scrapping of proposed 0.5 per cent Medicare levy rise to fully fund the NDIS – from last year’s federal budget – was now no longer necessary due to an improved fiscal position. They can now breathe a sigh of relief with Treasurer Scott Morrison announcing in his federal budget speech that the NDIS would be fully funded now and into the future -the NDIS is on track to be fully rolled out by 2020, with 140,000 Aussies now accessing the scheme.
Support services for NDIS Providers
As the NDIS readies itself to transition to a national regulatory framework (NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework) from 1 July 2018, there were no signs in the Federal Budget of efforts to increase support services and for both providers (and participants). The ever-growing frustration when people call the NDIS’s 1800 number in addition to the lack of communication (particularly through the www.ndis.gov.au website) is frustrating at best.
Increasing the NDIS workforce
An extra $92.1 million will support people who aren’t yet eligible but are transitioning towards the NDIS, and a jobs fund will be launched with an additional $64m to add more NDIS support workers.
What are your thoughts on the 2018 Federal Budget for service providers?