Health and Ageing Aged care


Budget Review 2009-10 Index

Budget 2009 10: Health and Ageing

Aged care

Rebecca de Boer

Apart from the increases to the pension and subsequent changes to the basic daily fee for aged care, the measures affecting aged care in the Budget failed to generate any significant media or stakeholder commentary. The changes to the pensions and their implications for residential aged care have been discussed elsewhere in this Budget Review.

The total budget allocation for aged care in 2009–10 is $9.9 billion, with $7.1 billion allocated for residential aged care. As was the case in the 2008–09 Budget, there was no significant investment in the aged care workforce. The return of 1000 nurses to the aged care sector by 2011–12 noted in the budget papers is part of a broader initiative announced by the Government on 15 January 2008.[1] Although this change could be considered to be an investment in aged care, it is relatively small when compared with the overall shortfall in the aged care workforce.[2]

Both the Shadow Minister for Ageing, Margaret May, and the Aged Care Association of Australia (ACAA) have expressed their disappointment that this Budget did not include greater investment in aged care infrastructure.[3] The ACAA suggested that residential care providers can no longer afford to build replacement stock and new buildings.[4] While it is difficult to verify the claims made by the ACAA, there have been widespread calls for reform of aged care funding from a range of commentators and stakeholders.[5]

The recent Senate inquiry into residential and community care in Australia did not make any broad recommendations for aged care funding reform. However, it did recommend that the Government establish a benchmark for the costs of providing aged care in Australia, and that it review the funding arrangements for aged care.[6] Submissions to the inquiry supported the argument that reform to funding arrangements was needed, along with significant capital investment in aged care infrastructure.[7] Although the Government is yet to respond to the Committee’s findings and recommendations, the issues raised by the Committee are not new. This Budget may well represent a missed opportunity to address the growing challenge of an ageing population through the improved provision of aged care services.



[1].    Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2009–10: budget related paper no.1.10: Health and Ageing Portfolio,  Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2009, p. 158 and Department of Health and Ageing, (DOHA), ‘Bringing nurses back into the workforce’, DoHA website, viewed 18 May 2009, http://www.health.gov.au/backtonursing

[2].    B Martin and D King, Who Cares for Older Australians? A Picture of the Residential and Community based Aged Care Workforce, National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University, Adelaide, 2007, http://www.socsci.flinders.edu.au/nils/assets/publications/NILS_Aged_Care_Final.pd

[3].    Aged Care Association of Australia, ‘Aged care reform still on the backburner’, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 18 May 2009 ,http://www.agedcareassociation.com.au//content/Final%20Budget%20Announcement
%20Media%20Release%2012%20May%2009.pdf
and M May, ‘Aged care crisis ignored again’, media release 13 May 2009, viewed 18 May 2009, http://www.margaretmaymp.com/media/portfoliomediareleases2008/
ageing130509/tabid/594/Default.aspx

[4].    Aged Care Association of Australia.

[5].    This was an overall theme of submissions made to Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration, Inquiry into residential and community aged care in Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, April 2009, viewed 17 May 2009,     http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/fapa_ctte/aged_care/index.htm. Chapters 3, 4 and 8 highlight concerns of stakeholders.

[6].    Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration, Inquiry into residential and community aged care in Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, April 2009, viewed 17 May 2009, http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/fapa_ctte/aged_care/index.htm. Recommendations 3, 4, 9, 14, 15, 29 and 30.

[7].    Senate Inquiry, Chapter 4.


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