Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

ALP Must Come Clean on $780m Promise

The Labor Party must come clean on how they plan to fund Shayne Neumann’s commitment to re-introduce the Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement.

The Government has taken the difficult but responsible decision to cease the Supplement which, as a result of poor design by Labor, had gone ten times beyond the funding envelope provided by the former Government.

The Supplement cost around $110 million in its first year (2013-14), over the budgeted $11.7 million.

The Supplement was introduced by Labor in 2013. The blame for the cessation lies fairly and squarely at their feet.

Providers were receiving the Supplement on behalf of around 25,500 people in residential aged care, far beyond the 2,000 people the previous government estimated would be eligible.

According to projections from the Department of Social Services, if current claiming patterns continue, the $16 a day Supplement would have cost the government $780 million over the four years from 2014-15, and over $1.5 billion over ten years.

Labor needs to tell the Australian people what existing programs they will cut over four years to fund their $780 million promise for which they only budgeted $52 million over the forward estimates.

The Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement was not the core or prime funding for Australians with dementia. It was a new programme intended to support providers with residents with severe behaviours.

Funding continues to be available for residential care providers to support the care needs of residents, including care needs associated with dementia through subsidies determined using the Aged Care Funding Instrument.

Consultation with the sector is already taking place on how the Government can support people with severe behaviours in a residential aged care setting.

We remain committed to providing support to people with dementia, including though the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services, the National Dementia Support Program and Dementia Training Study Centres, and through our $200 million boost to dementia research.