In a shocking new development, it has been revealed that Australia’s struggling aged care sector is owed more than half a billion dollars by the Albanese Labor Government.
The Department of Health and Aged Care has revealed that 561 aged care providers have outstanding COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant applications, totalling more than $570 million.
These grants – introduced by the former Coalition Government to support aged care providers with the additional costs of managing COVID-19 – are being withheld and delayed by the Albanese Labor Government.
The grants reimburse providers for the costs incurred during an outbreak, such as staffing, PPE, Rapid Antigen Tests and other infection control equipment.
This is money that providers have already spent, and in some cases, even borrowed, to support their residents during an outbreak, with the promise that they would be re-paid.
At a time when the sector is battling with serious workforce shortages, massive financial stress and impending regulations that many will not be able to meet, it is astounding that the Government is withholding such a significant amount of money from hard-working providers.
Withholding these payments is only adding to the serious pressures being forced onto the aged care sector by the Albanese Labor Government, which we know have already led to the closure of at least 23 aged care homes.
Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston said, “We have a very stressed aged care sector out there, and yet the Government is refusing to give providers any certainty about this funding.
“This is on top of the complete lack of comprehensive support they are providing to address the current workforce crisis, and the serious uncertainty providers are facing about what will happen when Labor’s rushed staffing regulations come into effect on 1 July.
“The Coalition will be prosecuting this issue strongly in Estimates this week, because it is unacceptable that such a significant amount of money is being rolled over into another financial year at a time when the sector is struggling.
“We want the aged care sector to be able to focus on delivering the best possible care to our older Australians, not on coping with the predatory acts of this government,” Senator Ruston said.