THE Federal Government is proposing in its Budget a substantial list of policies that are designed to accommodate the needs and rights of Australia's burgeoning senior community.
Treasurer Scott Morrison included in last night's Budget announcement the commitment by the government to "guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on," he said. "Just because you are getting older does not mean you should have to surrender your dignity or your choices. We're living longer. It's a good thing. We want to preserve and increase the choices of older Australians."
Were Australian seniors the big winners in Budget 2018?
Check out the list below of the key "choices" the government is proposing -
Funding to protect the rights of older Australians and protect them from abuse. The measure will support -
- Expansion and evaluation of trials of three types of specialist support services: specialist elder abuse units located in legal services; health-justice partnerships; and family counselling and mediation services.
- An Elder Abuse Knowledge Hub.
- A National Prevalence Research scoping study.
- The development of a National Plan to address elder abuse, to be agreed between the Commonwealth, states and territories, in close consultation with industry and community groups.
The government will also work with the states and territories to develop the much-anticipated national register of Enduring Powers of Attorney.
JOB AND SKILLS
Skills Checkpoint for Older Workers Program
- Support employees aged 45-70 to remain in the workforce. From September 1, 2018, 5000 employees each year would be entitled to receive customised career advice on transitioning into new roles, or their pathways to a new career, including referrals to relevant training options.
Jobs and skills
- Support mature age Australians to adapt to the transitioning economy and develop the skills needed to remain in work.
The funding includes:
- Training to help mature age job seekers aged 45 years and over and who are registered with a jobactive provider to enhance employability, develop digital skills and identify opportunities in local labour markets.
- Training funding for workers aged 45 to 70 years to take up reskilling or upskilling opportunities, with the Government contribution to be matched by either the worker or their current employer.
- Support for mature age workers who are considering early retirement or who are retrenched to look at alternatives to remain in employment.
- Funding for Inclusive Entrepreneurship Facilitators for an increased focus on mature age people to promote entrepreneurship and new business opportunities and to provide business mentoring.
- Restructure the Employment Fund to allow additional wage subsidy places for mature age employees.
- Work with business and community bodies to develop strategies that promote the benefits of a diverse workforce, influence hiring practices and reduce discrimination.
Better access to care -
- Policies to support people to stay at home longer, remain healthy and independent for longer, and to improve access to high quality, safe aged care.
- Additional 14,000 new high-level home care packages over four years, in addition to the 6000 high level packages delivered in the 2017-18.
- 13,500 residential aged care places and 775 short term restorative care places in the 2018-19 Aged Care Approvals Round will be released, with a $60 million capital investment to support new places.
- Funding for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program to deliver additional residential aged care places and home care packages in remote Indigenous communities.
- Make the My Aged Care website easier to use.
- Funding for aged care facilities in regional, rural and remote Australia.
- Support preparatory work for a new national assessment framework for people seeking aged care.
- Further trial navigator services to assist people seeking information about aged care to make decisions that are right for them.
- Conduct an impact analysis of allocating residential care places to people seeking care, rather than to the providers of that care in response to the 2017 Legislated Review of Aged Care.
- Combine the Residential Care and Home Care programs from July 1, 2018 to provide greater flexibility to respond to changes in demand for home care packages and residential aged care places.
Better quality of care -
- Establish a new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission from January 1, 2019.
- Funding for a Quality Care Fund to improve the quality of residential aged care.
- Enhance the regulation of aged care provider quality to better identify risks and respond more quickly to care failures.
- Trial improving palliative care for elderly Australians living in residential aged care facilities, contingent on matched funding from the states and territories.
- Improve the transparency of information on aged care provider quality.
- Improve the management of prudential risk in residential aged care facilities including through the introduction of a levy to secure accommodation bonds.
Better ageing -
- Provide mental health services for people in residential aged care facilities.
- Undertake a trial of support strategies to help older Australians stay independent for longer.
- Pilot of services led by mental health nurses to target the mental health of older Australians in the community, particularly those at risk from isolation.
- Encourage and increase physical activity in older Australians.
- Development of website checks for 45 and 65 year olds which will be supported by reminder letters so they can assess their health, employment options and finances, so as to remain healthy, active and independent.
- Development of technological solutions to support people living with dementia to better manage their care.
- For the Australian and New Zealand Hip Fracture Registry to collect more data to improve patient outcomes.
Funding for a range of measures that will enhance the standard of living of older Australians. This measure commences on July 1, 2019, and comprises -
- Pension Work Bonus increase from $250 to $300 per fortnight to earn up to $7800 each year without impacting their pension. It will also be expanded to allow self-employed retirees to earn up to $300 per fortnight without impacting their pension.
- Pension means test rules amendment to encourage the development and take-up of lifetime retirement income products that can help retirees manage the risk of outliving their savings.
- Pension Loans Scheme expansion to everyone over Age Pension age and to increase the maximum fortnightly income stream to 150 per cent of the Age Pension rate. This will enable Australians to use the equity in their homes to increase their incomes.
- Retirement covenant that will require superannuation trustees to formulate a retirement income strategy for superannuation fund members.
- Requirement for providers of retirement income products to report simplified, standardised metrics in product disclosure to assist customer decision making.
- Introduce an exemption from the work test for voluntary contributions to superannuation, for people aged 65-74 with superannuation balances below $300,000, in the first year that they do not meet the work test requirements. The work test exemption will give recent retirees additional flexibility to get their financial affairs in order in the transition to retirement. Currently, the work test restricts the ability to make voluntary superannuation contributions for those aged 65-74 to individuals who self-report as working a minimum of 40 hours in any 30-day period in the financial year. This measure will take effect from July 1, 2019.
- Three per cent annual cap on passive fees charged by superannuation funds on accounts with balances below $6000 and will ban exit fees on all superannuation accounts.
- Insurance within superannuation will move from a default framework to be offered on an opt-in basis for: members with low balances of less than $6000; members under the age of 25 years; and members whose accounts have not received a contribution in 13 months and are inactive.
- For SMSFs, increase the maximum number of allowable members in new and existing self-managed superannuation funds and small APRA funds from four to six, and change the annual audit requirement to a three-yearly requirement for self-managed superannuation funds with a history of good record-keeping and compliance. Both measures to be introduced from July 1, 2019.