This year has been one of significant change and continuing reform across aged care. My objective now and into the future is to ensure the very best of care for you and your loved ones and the best opportunities for senior Australians.
The May Budget package, More Choices for a Longer Life, included a record $5 billion boost over four years for aged care, underlining our commitment to providing more choice, support and certainty for Australians as they age.
Senior Australians receiving the age pension will be able to earn up to $7,800 a year without reducing their pension, there is improved mental health support and more projects to keep people healthy and connected with their communities.
We are working together with senior Australians and the aged care sector to create a more responsive, people-focussed and sustainable aged care system that offers choice, control, certainty and independence.
Senior Australians want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, so our Government has invested $1.6 billion in more high-level home care packages and additional funding to expand Commonwealth home support services.
From 1 January 2018, the new and independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will open its doors. The new one-stop shop will accredit and monitor aged care services against new quality standards which will clearly spell out what consumers can expect from aged care services, supported by a new charter of rights.
In parallel to our aged care reform program, we have also established a Royal Commission into the aged care system.
The Royal Commission is about listening to the community, and examining where we have structural challenges in aged care.
It will be a critical forum for Australians to tell their aged care stories, and for our nation to understand how we can meet the challenges and the opportunities of delivering sustainable aged care services. It is about the level of reform required to guarantee that our loved ones are well cared for in the years and decades to come.
And critically, as the Prime Minister has said, a key task of the Royal Commission will be to help build a national culture of respect for ageing and older Australians. Therein lies a key foundation for fairness for ageing Australians into the future.
I wish everyone a safe and joyful Christmas and a happy new year as we approach the end of 2018. I look forward to our work continuing next year to deliver more choice for senior Australians and a better, higher quality aged care system for all.
Ken Wyatt AM
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care