UnitingCare Australia has long believed that reforms increasing user choice are positive as stated in our submission to the Competition Policy Review Panel in December 20141. There is demand from consumers their families and our providers for more flexibility and a greater degree of user direction. We continue to support reforms enabling the market to increase supply to better meet demand. These reforms should include increased transparency around cost of delivery and freedom to recover costs according to capacity of consumers to pay.

UnitingCare Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Second Draft Discussion Paper regarding the Accommodation Pricing Guidelines, Significant Refurbishment of residential Agedcare Services, Fees and Payments Principles 2013, Subsidy Principles 2013, Aged Care (Maximum Accommodation Payment
Amount) Determination 2013

UnitingCare looks forward to working with the Australian Government to deliver a robust aged care workforce strategy that will underpin a sustainable future for the aged care industry. Key areas that must be addressed include:

1. training and skills development, to support entry and transition to the aged care sector, as well as new skills to meet the needs of an innovative and responsive industry;

2. raising the profile of the sector as a potential employer, and ensuring that conditions and career pathways reflect the importance of aged care to community wellbeing; and

3. research and development in the sector, to ensure quality and efficiency outcomes and to capture the potential of aged care, as a growing service industry, to contribute socially and economically.

The principal purpose of the proposed legislative process is to provide a measure against which to assess policy and legislative settings that impact on an individuals’ superannuation investments, either during the accumulation or retirement phase.

We welcome the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Education and Employment Committee regarding the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Bill 2015. We support many of the reforms outlined in the Bill, and its goal of making childcare more affordable and accessible. We also support its related aim of enabling more parents to increase their hours of work, or re-join the workforce. Facilitating this is beneficial not only for Australian families, but for Australia’s productivity in a broader sense.

Thank you to the Committee for providing the opportunity to comment on this Bill.

As noted in UnitingCare Australia’s written submission, we’ve previously indicated support for reform of Social Services legislation when it is informed by a thorough analysis of the needs of individuals and families who access the welfare system. It’s paramount that the impacts of any reform are thoroughly and transparently assessed prior to changes being implemented that may result in adverse impacts on the most vulnerable members of our community.

We thank the Committee for the opportunity to make a submission to the inquiry into the above Bill.

UnitingCare Australia supports a review of payment architecture and payment adequacy and the need for both to be placed in the context of lifetime wellbeing, delivering against the fundamental principle that payments should reflect need. Ideally, we would support this review taking place in the context of a broader tax and transfer reform framework.

As one of the largest networks of community services providers in Australia, the UnitingCare workforce is experiencing first-hand the challenge presented by Australia’s ageing population, with more older individuals requiring increasingly complex support, rehabilitation and care in their own home or a residential setting, in particular with the increasing demand of dementia.

This submission adds further to the comments and recommendations made in our original submission1 to the taxation review. In making this second submission we have been mindful of the key findings of the 2014 Financial System Inquiry and of the 2015 Intergenerational Report with regard to the economic and social challenges of an ageing population and also the Productivity Commission’s superannuation policy post-retirement research paper.

UnitingCare Australia welcomes this opportunity to provide feedback to the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) on issues regarding access to care for supported residents. We note that one thing that is not clear in the discussion paper is a description of what the policy problem is that the review is designed to address. As we note below, the absence of an objective, and the lack of data about demand in the sector, together have made it difficult in places to comment in any detail.