With no laws in place to guarantee transparency in aged care funding, Australian taxpayers can’t be assured that $624 million (over four years) allocated for the sector in the 2019 MYEFO will actually be used by nursing home operators to provide quality care for residents, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
The ANMF also questions how the Government can claim that the funding, in response to the Interim Report of the Royal Commission, builds on ‘recent improvements to standards, oversight, funding, and transparency in the care of older Australians’, when only 11 days ago it cynically blocked an Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Bill 2019 – which was seeking transparency and accountability for the billions of dollars in taxpayer-funding received by nursing home operators.
“Privately-operated aged care providers receive between 70-80% of their funding from the Australian taxpayer, but with no current laws in place, they are free to spend public funds however they choose. This means that the taxpayer won’t know exactly where the $624 million in the MYEFO for aged care is being allocated or importantly, if it’s flowing through to the care of vulnerable, older Australians in nursing homes,” ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said today.
“Some providers may be struggling financially, particularly those in rural and regional areas, but with the Government failing to introduce legislated transparency and accountability requirements for aged care funding, we don’t know whether they will receive the funds they need.
“As we know, last year the ANMF commissioned Tax Justice Network Report Tax Avoidance by For-Profit Aged Care Companies: Profit Shifting on Public Funds examined tax avoidance in the aged care sector, showing how Australia’s top six for-profit aged care providers, some with foreign ownership, posted enormous profits whilst taking advantage of AUD $2.17 billion in Australian taxpayer-funded subsidies, using various loopholes, corporate structures and discretionary trusts to avoid paying their fair share of tax.
“Whilst the MYEFO funding for additional home care packages aims to reduce the 100,000 people still languishing on waiting lists, we cannot be sure that this aim will be achieved. It also does nothing to ease the suffering and neglect of those older Australians already living in residential care, as a result of the chronic understaffing in nursing homes.
“With no Government guarantees attached or requirements to demonstrate the use of taxpayer-funding for aged care, the quality and quantity of care able to be provided to residents continues to be diminished.”
ANMF media release authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.
The ANMF, with 275,500 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.
ANMF media inquiries: Richard Lenarduzzi 0411 254 390