The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says nursing and midwifery students, and nurses and assistants in nursing (AIN) working in the under-resourced aged care sector are the big losers in last night’s Federal Budget.
And ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the Government’s gradual winding back of the unpopular freeze on Medicare rebates is “too little, too late” for most patients.
“Make no mistake, the freeze on Medicare rebates is still in place, you could say it’s only being de-frosted,” Ms Thomas said.
“This just means that people visiting the GP or needing a specialist consultation will continue to be slugged with increasing out of pocket costs for their healthcare for the next two years, it’s particularly tough on low-income earners already struggling to make ends meet.
“If this Government was serious about alleviating the cost of healthcare, it would have immediately put an end to the freeze on GP rebates, full stop. But even when it is eventually and completely lifted in 2020, it will be too little, too late.
“The Budget again has shown no care for aged care. Australia faces a shortage of 20,000 aged care nurses, but there’s been no reversal of the crippling $1.2 billion in funding cuts, no regulations for mandated, safe staffing ratios for nurses and carers.
“Nurses and AIN’s are finding it harder and harder to cope with dangerously high workloads and there’s been a notable rise in the number of missed care episodes at aged care facilities across the country. Without adequate targeted funding the care they can provide to their residents continues to be compromised.
“Students dreaming of becoming nurses and midwives have also been impacted by an increase in the cost of university degrees. They’ll be forced to pay thousands of dollars more to fulfil their dream and then have to start repaying their HECS debt much sooner after the Budget cut the income threshold down to $42,000.
“The ANMF is disappointed the Government can deliver up to $50 billion in corporate tax cuts to big businesses, but can target Australia’s next generation of nurses and low-paid nurses and AIN’s working in aged care.”
Ms Thomas said the ANMF welcomed the Budget closing the funding gap for the NDIS, funding for mental health initiatives, medical research into childhood cancer and the scrapping of $13 billion in “zombie measures” which couldn’t be passed by Parliament, including proposed cuts to paid parental leave (PPL).
The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.
ANMF media contact: 0411 254 390