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BREAKING: PM unveils $452 million funding package

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 04: Department of Health Secretary Dr Brendan Murphy (left), Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Health Greg Hunt during a press conference in the Prime Minister's Courtyard at Parliament House on February 04, 2021 in Canberra, Australia. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for people 16 years and older with the COVID-19 vaccine to be available in Australia at 50 hospital sites across the country, and in residential aged care and disability facilities. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
Department of Health Secretary Dr Brendan Murphy (left), Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced the additional funding today. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images) (Sam Mooy via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged $452 million in a bid to address crucial issues in the aged care sector that have come to light following the Aged Care Royal Commission.

The final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was released by the Federal Government today and contains nearly 150 recommendations.

Speaking today, Morrison said the multi-million dollar package was being committed as part of the Government’s “immediate” response, but that more funding would be announced in coming months.

“There will be more and it will be comprehensive and addressed throughout the Budget process. I've made that very clear on numerous occasions,” Morrison said.

He said the royal commission has highlighted “great risks” that vulnerable and frail individual works encounter through the inadequate availability or training of care workers.

“Australians must be able to trust that their loved ones will be cared for appropriately and the community should have confidence in the system. This remains our clear goal.”

The aged care royal commission spanned two years and involved nearly 100 days of hearings, heard from 641 residents, staff, families and experts, accepted over 10,500 submissions, and has produced nearly 40 reports and research papers.

Speaking alongside Morrison, Health Minister Greg Hunt described the report, which lays out a five-year plan, as “monumental”.

“The central vision is of a nation where we value our elders, where we respect them, we provide care and we provide dignity. And we respond to their individual needs. That's the critical thing,” he said.

Hunt said the $452 million in funding would act to “immediately” address fee transparency and conduct an audit program of more than 400 facilities and providers.

Where is the money going?

$18.4 million will be dedicated to implementing a new quality control system of home care packages, and 1,500 additional audits across residential care facilities will be conducted.

A further $32 million will be dedicated to strengthening care provider quality, including extra powers for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to appoint a 'senior restraint practitioner' that will enhance regulation around physical and chemical restraints.

About $280 million will go towards temporary financial support in residential care, including targeted support for residential aged care providers struggling with financial distress.

Nearly $92 million will also be committed to attract 18,000 new workers to the home and residential aged care workforce.

Finally, $30.1 million will go into funding training for aged home board members, creating stronger quality standards, and overhauling the Aged Care Act that dates back to 1997.

The Federal Government has said it will have a full response to the Royal Commission's recommendations by May, which is around the time the next Federal Budget is due.

–with AAP

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