Dr Haines: My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians. The government’s own data shows that the waiting list for home-care packages dropped by just 2,000 over the first six months of this year. At this rate, it will take 26 years to clear the home-care waiting list. What will the government do to accelerate the provision of home-care packages, and by what date does it expect to have provided home-care packages to every Australian entitled to one?
Minister for Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet): I want to thank the member for Indi, and I appreciate the intent, sincerity and focus in relation to this. One of the most significant sources of investment in the budget was precisely to address home-care places—$1.6 billion was invested to further reduce wait times. I’m advised that, at this point in time, 98 per cent of those who are seeking home-care packages have been given access to support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program or the Home Care Packages Program, but we want to make sure that reaches 100 per cent. That’s why we invested $1.6 billion in 26,000 places, as part of the budget. Those places come on top of an extra 3,000 places, which were announced in recent months, and indeed they come on top of an increase from 60,000 places, when we came into government, to 185,000 places, before the end of this year.
So what we are doing to address what I think is a very important and real and significant question is to invest on a scale vastly above that which has ever occurred before. To put it in perspective, there has been a 28 per cent increase in those over 70 since we came into government, there has been a tripling or a 200 per cent increase in the number of places available for home care, and there has been a quadrupling or a 300 per cent increase in the total funding available, from $1.15 billion to $4.5 billion over the course of next financial year. All of those are immensely important, but, at the same time, they come on the back of the work that’s been done to improve quality—the adoption of quality indicators, the royal commission, which the Prime Minister called at his earliest time upon coming into office—
The SPEAKER: The minister will just pause and take a seat for a second. The member for Indi on a point of order?
Dr Haines: Yes, relevance. I’m keen to know what date the government expects to have provided home-care packages to every Australian entitled to one.
The SPEAKER: The member for Indi had a preamble and two questions. I’ll ask the minister to return to the dispatch box. He has the call.
Minister for Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet): Thank you very much. As I indicated, already 98 per cent of those who are seeking home care have either received an offer or accepted Commonwealth home support or some form of home care. Our goal is, at the earliest possible time, to lift that to 100 per cent. That’s the direct answer to the question.
More generally, not only have we made sure that there is a very significant increase—a tripling—in the number of home-care places, but, in addition to that, what we’ve done is work assiduously on the questions and importance of quality. I am reminded that today, on the best advice, received before coming to question time, we have no active cases in Victorian aged care, and I think that’s a signature moment for everybody. (Time expired)