Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt. Anna Rogers

Record $967m commitment to expand residential aged care

THE Morrison Government has committed to providing Australians with more choices for longer lives.

It has allocated a record 13,500 new residential aged care places across Australia, worth $907 million a year, along with a $60 million capital works investment to finance construction of new and extended aged care homes.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the $967 million expansion was part of the government's $5 billion aged care boost and was Australia's largest ever allocation of residential aged care places.

It represents an increase of more than 36 per cent on the 9911 Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) places announced in 2016-17.

Metropolitan allocations are at record levels but rural, regional and remote areas are significant winners because of a focus on improving aged care access and services in country communities.

The number of new places allocated outside major cities has almost doubled from the previous round, with over 5000 allocated to regional areas.

"Allocating these new places to regional areas is part of our strategy to combat the challenges faced by these communities," Mr Wyatt said.

"I am passionate about ensuring all Australians have access to quality aged care services regardless of where they live.

"Every one of these new places will mean senior Australians can age with more confidence, knowing they have future care options in locations as close as possible to their families and communities, whether in the city of the country."

Older Australians who are financially or socially challenged, who are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or LGBTI communities or who are veterans, are among those who will have priority access to more than 23 per cent of the new places.

The $60 million capital works investment will provide 28 grants to establish, extend and refurbish new and existing homes in priority areas of rural and regional Australia.

Projects will include renovations, extensions, improved kitchens, gardens and recreation facilities, solar power additions and better security and fire protection systems.

Mr Wyatt said the government was also focused on supporting senior Australians with special or complex needs.

Projects funded include:

More than $4.7 million to be invested in Shepparton, Victoria, to build a 20-bed residential aged care facility exclusively for disadvantaged older Australians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than $5.9 million to extend and upgrade two facilities in Queensland to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seniors in need of dedicated, culturally appropriate aged care.

The Morrison Government is investing record funding in aged care, with annual funding to grow by $5 billion over four years.

"Under our government, aged care places are up and home care packages are up, demonstrating our absolute commitment to the wellbeing of senior Australians," Mr Wyatt said.

Information about the 2018-19 Aged Care Approvals Round outcomes, including details of the successful providers, is available on the government's aged care website

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