Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

ALP Hypocrisy Over Supplement Blowout

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator The Hon. Mitch Fifield
    Assistant Minister for Social Services

  • The Hon Kevin Andrews MP
    Minister for Social Services

Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews says he is amazed at the hypocrisy of Labor to use Dementia Awareness Month to criticise the Coalition for ending a Dementia supplement when it totally mismanaged the design of the payment while in Government.

Mr Andrews said Labor costed the Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement at $11.7 million in its first year (2013-14) but taxpayers ended up paying around $110 million.

“This supplement, which was paid to aged care providers, was an ALP policy failure and they have the hide to attack the Coalition today for ending the mismanagement of it.

“Providers were receiving the Supplement on behalf of around 29,000 people in residential aged care, far beyond the 2,000 people the previous government estimated would be eligible.

“This payment was flawed from the start and had gone ten times beyond its funding envelope,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Social Services Senator Mitch Fifield said had it continued, the payment would have cost the government $780 million over four years and over $1.5 billion over ten years.

“This is a problem not of the Government’s making, and our decision was not taken lightly,” Senator Fifield said.

“Third parties have agreed there was no other responsible course of action in the circumstances, with COTA Australia saying ‘many providers were receiving very substantial extra funds without validation and with no guarantee of better outcomes for people with severe dementia.

“Funding continues to be available for residential care providers to care for residents, including those with dementia.”

A forum involving relevant stakeholders and experts will be held on 11 September to consider strategies to improve dementia care in both residential care and care in the home, which will acknowledge the need for specialist support for clients with more complex needs or more severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Support continues to people with dementia, including the National Dementia Support Program and Dementia Training Study Centres, and a $200 million boost to dementia research.