Call for Commonwealth Government to invest in long-term sustainability of health and aged care sectors

February 11, 2021

The VHA has used its pre-budget submission to call on the Commonwealth Government to focus on five key areas critical to Australia’s recovery from COVID-19 and the long-term sustainability of the health and aged care sectors.

Consolidating the learnings from recent challenges facing the health sector and building on the pre-budget submission made in late 2020, the VHA wants to see Government investment in health prevention, vaccination preparedness, mental health, telehealth and aged care.

The first key area is increased spending on preventative health with a call to fully fund the implementation of the National Preventive Health Strategy to support prevention, early intervention and health maintenance activities throughout the pandemic recovery phase.

The VHA is also keen to see significant and strategic investment in vaccination preparedness with additional operating expenditure to support public health and community health services to implement the vaccine program. This would include working with the Victorian Government to support the delivery of clear, consistent and tailored messaging for local communities to ensure the public is informed throughout.

To address the fragmentation and gaps in mental health care and increasing demand, the VHA is requesting Commonwealth support for responsive and strategic mental health reform. The pre-budget submission seeks to strengthen existing HeadtoHelp clinics to provide tailored and responsive mental health support. It also highlights the critical need for any investment to consolidate the significant program of reforms planned in Victoria as a result of the Royal Commission and rapid implementation of the recommendations and actions covered in the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report on Mental Health.

Telehealth has also been identified as a priority for this year’s budget, with investment needed to build and sustain current offerings. The VHA advocates for permanently extending MBS telehealth items across all professions to ensure continuity of care to existing telehealth clients. This would also increase accessibility and service offerings for consumers and provide certainty to healthcare providers.

With the final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety expected later this month, the VHA is urging the Government to develop and fully fund an implementation roadmap based on the final recommendations. This requires crucial additional funding to future-proof the system against potential emergencies and ensure elderly Victorians receive the best standard of care.

Read the full submission here.