Budget misses scale and investment needed for long-term sustainability of health and aged care

October 6, 2020

The 2020-2021 Commonwealth Budget, released tonight by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, has failed to properly reflect the reality of health and aged care during COVID-19 or allow Australia to take full advantage of emerging opportunities stemming from the pandemic.

While Australia’s health system continues to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, particularly in Victoria, the budget speech focused extensively on jobs and infrastructure, with major funding announcements including $1.2bn to create 100,000 apprenticeships, accelerated income tax cuts to drive household spending and a $3.5bn upgrade to the National Broadband Network.

Chief Executive of the VHA, Tom Symondson says the announcements, which include 23,000 extra Home Care Packages and an additional $3.9 billion for NDIS, are an important start but do not go far enough to support health and aged care sectors as Victoria, and the rest of Australia, recover from the pandemic.

‘The Treasurer labelled healthcare workers, and other frontline staff, as heroes; but then failed to make the necessary announcements to support these heroes to do their jobs and deliver the care Australians need. While there were some important announcements tonight, the level of investment does not accurately reflect the state and needs of the health system,’ Mr Symondson says.

‘While tonight was a missed opportunity, there will be other opportunities for the Commonwealth Government to support the health and aged care sector, including the final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Commonwealth Government must support the health and aged care sectors to build on lessons from COVID-19 and learn from the pandemic.’

‘The Victorian Healthcare Association remains committed to advocating on behalf of its members and working with the Commonwealth Government to ensure Victoria’s health system is in a stronger position post-pandemic.’

The key health announcements tonight build on pre-budget announcements that benefit VHA members including:

  • MBS telehealth items extension to March 2021
  • HeadtoHelp centres being delivered by community health services
  • Extension of the Commonwealth Government’s increased viability and homeless supplements to 28 February 2021
  • Maintaining flexibility arrangements for Assistive Technology beyond September 2020

These were some of the recommendations included in the VHA’s Commonwealth Budget 2020-2021 submission.

Building on the detail we provided in our pre-Budget submission, the VHA believes the following key investments are vital to safeguard the health and wellbeing of Australians throughout the pandemic and beyond:

  • long-term investment, beyond the six-month extension to MBS telehealth items, to embed telehealth including building workforce capability and addressing connectivity and infrastructure challenges
  • investment in health and aged care infrastructure to strengthen the system against future crises
  • increased focus and funding to support prevention, early intervention and community-based care and support
  • long-term investment in the delivery of quality mental health care beyond the current emergency response.

The VHA continues to work closely with members to develop a clear picture of what’s needed to grow and maintain the healthcare and aged care sectors in Australia.

#ENDS#

For media enquiries please contact Jack Walden on 0428 300 090 or jack.walden@vha.org.au