We welcome the opportunity to submit this submission in advance of the 2022/23 Federal Budget. We note that further policies may be released as part of COTA Australia’s Federal Election positions.
Older Australians need a comprehensive plan from the Australian Government, demonstrating that all areas of Government are thinking and acting in a coordinated fashion to improve the lives of mature age and older Australians. Given the breadth of the portfolio areas that touch on older people’s lives, COTA Australia’s maintains its view that a focused Whole-of-Government Strategy for Older Australians is required.
The Government has provided a comprehensive response to the Aged Care Royal Commission, and is currently working to implement its commitments. We note however that a number of recommendations of the Royal Commission have not yet been conclusively agreed to or funded by the Government. Of most concern is the commitment to the higher level of staffing time in residential care, including 24/7 nurses available onsite, which was the second part of the Royal Commission recommendation. In addition the government should commit to fund the decision of the Fair Work Commission on the claim for increased remuneration for all staff in the sector. Another recommendation not yet agreed to by Government is the recommendation to develop a Senior Dental Benefits Scheme, not only for those in aged care homes but for all low income older Australians.
While the past two years has rightly focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, as we move into the next stage of COVID-19 it is important to consider the economic recovery for older workers. Measures to get them into the workforce and encourage them to remain in the workforce are critical for our country’s recovery. Similarly, work commenced prior to the pandemic must be continued. This includes consideration of how retirement income policy can be improved based on the observations of the Retirement Income Review.
COTA Australia stands ready to engage with Government on these and any other measures affecting the lives of Australians over the age of 50 years.