Federal Budget: VHA calls for health funding that aligns with increased demand

January 31, 2022

The VHA recently delivered its submission for the Federal Budget 2022-23. It calls for Commonwealth involvement and leadership in increasing health funding, improving workforce availability and ensuring greater care in the community. The Commonwealth Government has a vital role to support and augment the health response as Australia continues to navigate the pandemic.

Victoria, in facing the most extensive lockdowns in the country, has felt the biggest impacts of the pandemic. This has had major ramifications for our public health and aged care services, which have battled to protect and care for patients and staff. Even as the virus starts to become endemic, these pressures will not dissipate; they will only change, with Victoria likely to face the consequences of the pandemic for years to come.

It is essential that adequate funding is available to ensure health and aged care in Victoria can meet the needs of the population.

 

Our submission included the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1: The Commonwealth Government should remove the 6.5 per cent funding increase cap in the National Health Reform funding agreement for Commonwealth health funding for 2022-23 and 2023-24 to support the post-pandemic response.

Recommendation 2: The Commonwealth Government should provide catch-up funding for Public Sector Residential Aged Care Services (PSRACS) and Multi-Purpose Services (MPS) to ensure equity and to overcome historical funding inequality.

Recommendation 3: The Commonwealth Government should support the growth of the health and aged care workforce by removing barriers to immigration for health professionals, including:

  • removing age limits for permanent residency for those in the sector
  • reducing the limit on working hours for international students
  • streamlining immigration pathways for overseas professionals.

Recommendation 4: The Commonwealth Government must incentivise working in rural and regional areas by remitting all or part of Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt for allied health practitioners and registered nurses.

Recommendation 5: The Commonwealth Government should support the growth of the mental health workforce by:

  • expediting the National Mental Health Workforce and National Medical Workforce strategies with actionable implementation plans
  • reducing immigration barriers, such as age limits for permanent residency and working hour limits for international students
  • removing blockages in the training pipeline, including expansion of critical provision of training places,delivery of quality and fit-for-purpose course content, and support for placements in mental health settings
  • removing training hurdles for allied health graduates, such as requiring a high number of hours of unpaid placement
  • ensuring there is appropriate training, resources and opportunities for clinical mental health professionals.

Recommendation 6: The Commonwealth Government should fund a primary health surge workforce, comprised of nurse practitioners and RIPERNs, to ensure GPs can continue to support rural and regional services and communities.

Recommendation 7: The Commonwealth Government should, as part of the national rollout of the COVID PositivePathway model, provide increased funding to Victoria to support its role as the leading jurisdiction.

Recommendation 8: The Commonwealth Government must ensure telehealth is an enduring feature of our health system.

Recommendation 9: The Commonwealth Government must increase funding for preventive health in the budget, in line with its five per cent funding commitment in the National Preventive Health Strategy.

Recommendation 10: The Commonwealth Government should extend Head to Health clinics for an additional two years to support post-pandemic demand for care.

 

Click here to read the submission.