Monday's announcement the Federal government will begin to make up to $500 million available to fund an additional 10,000 homecare packages is the best news the aged care sector has had in decades.
The problem is while this is far more than a band-aid the news, the government's first bankable response to the interim report of the aged care Royal Commission, is still well short of being a cure.
One of the biggest problems is that the funding will only provide packages for one in 10 of the more than 100,000 people currently on the waiting list for this assistance.
We can't even be sure, given more and more people are putting their names down all the time as partners die, carers move or other circumstances change, that this additional spending will actually bring waiting times down.
Our population is ageing. That's a demographic fact of life government's have been aware of, and allegedly planning for, for decades.
We've known since well before the turn of the century that demand for homecare packages and other aged services would grow for the foreseeable future.
That's what happens when you have a perfect storm created by the conjunction of the largest population boom in the nation's history and significantly increased life expectancy.
More and more people are getting older than ever before and a succession of governments, both Coalition and Labor, have not done enough to prepare us for this moment.
That failure was a major contributor to the litany of horrors exposed by the aged care Royal Commission which handed down its' interim report at the end of October.
The report identified three areas on which it said action could be undertaken immediately.
These were the need to provide more funding for homecare packages; the need to reduce the over use of chemical "restraints", a quaint euphemism for drugging residents into near insensibility in order to make them easier to manage, and the need to end to end the horror of young disabled people being forced into aged care homes; places that are spectacularly inappropriate for their needs.
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, pledged to boost homecare package funding by Christmas with details likely to be announced in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook which is usually released in mid-December.
That is a real budget buster. One-off spends just aren't going to cut it.
Greg Hunt, the Health Minister, said immediate action would be taken on chemical restraints and flagged a "big investment" in the aged care sector.
Monday's pre-emptive announcement of the $537 million package to cover homecare places, chemical restraints and young people in aged care could be seen as a sign MYEFO has been pushed back because of the challenge involved in coming up with a spare half a billion dollars while protecting the surplus.
Keen students of the Budget website will have noticed it is now going to be released "by the end of January 2020", more than nine months after the pre-election budget was handed down on April 2.
Last year's MYEFO, for the record, was released on December 17.
The real issue, however, is not the politics but the need for recurrent funding for aged care, including homecare, given experts say the shortfall on that alone is in the vicinity of $8 billion to $9 billion and that as much as $2.5 billion may need to be spent over the next three years to bring waiting lists down.
That is a real budget buster and one-off spends just aren't going to cut it.
We need to consider an NDIS or Medicare style funding package to provide security for the sector and peace of mind for our elderly.
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