Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Certainty for Commonwealth Home Support Programme

The Government has taken two decisions to provide certainty for Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) clients and providers.

CHSP funding agreements will be extended to 30 June 2018, to coincide with the 2015 Budget decision to merge the CHSP and Home Care Packages programme from July 2018 to create an integrated care at home programme.

This funding will ensure three years of certainty worth more than $1.6 billion annually for CHSP providers.

I have also decided – having taken on board community feedback and in light of the Budget announcement to put new home care arrangements in in place from 2018 – not to proceed with a mandatory national fees policy for CHSP from 1 July 2015.

Under changes initiated by the previous government, a national mandatory fees policy for the CHSP programme was proposed to bring greater consistency to the varying fee arrangements nationwide.

A CHSP National Fees Policy Consultation Paper was circulated throughout the industry in December to facilitate discussion.

Having listened to the feedback I have decided instead of a mandatory fees policy, I will look to a fees framework which outlines principles providers can adopt in setting and implementing their fees, leading to greater consistency and fairness.

This will prevent fees from exceeding the cost of the service and ensure there is a safety net for those who need it.

I have particularly taken on board the views of the volunteers and providers of meals on wheels, community transport and social support services.

My Department will work with the National Aged Care Alliance and peak bodies including the Australian Meals on Wheels Association to settle a principles-based fees policy for release in July 2015.

The new fees framework will enable providers to move their fee charging practices towards national consistency over time.

My Department will also work with the sector to develop a national guide for providers and consumers which describes the current varying fee arrangements in order to make them more transparent.

This will be an important resource to assist providers setting their fees and consumers choosing services.

We will also work closely with stakeholders to design and implement the integrated care at home programme for 2018.

For more information on the CHSP please visit the Department of Social Services website.