Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Better care for young people with disability

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Over 190 young people with disability were moved out of, or were diverted from entering residential aged care facilities between June 2006 and December 2008, according to a report released today. Between December 2008 and June 2009, the number rose to 302.

The Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin, and Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten, today released the Mid Term Evaluation of the Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) program which aims to reduce the number of people under the age of 65 living in aged care accommodation.

The evaluation found the program was having a positive impact on a large number of younger people living in, or at risk of admission to, residential aged care and that it was on track to reduce the total numbers of young people in nursing homes by up to 689 people by 2011.

To ensure the program meets the different needs of clients and their families, the Australian Government is providing $500,000 over two years to June 2011 to the Young People in Nursing Homes National Alliance.

The Alliance will consult young people and their families, as well as State and Territory Governments, the health sector and other stakeholders to develop policy options and service pathways for this group. It will report back to the Government on the future direction and possible improvements to the program.

Ms Macklin said the five-year YPIRAC program, announced in 2006, aimed to provide alternative accommodation and support for people under 65 who were already living in, or at risk of moving into, aged care facilities.

“Obviously younger people with disability have different needs from older residents. This means nursing homes are often not the best accommodation and care option for them,” Ms Macklin said.

“We want to give younger people with disability better options. This is why we are working hard with the States and Territories to provide better choices for young people with disability rather than confining them to nursing homes. This report shows we are making progress, but of course there is still more work to be done.”

Mr Shorten said it was important to listen to young people with disability and their families so the Government could provide better targeted services in the future.

“Young people should not be shut away in nursing homes just because they have an impairment,” Mr Shorten said.

“They should have the choice of accommodation with their peers, or support programs that give them access to the community.

“Having the choice to live with comfort and dignity is a right to which we are all entitled.

We are committed to working with the states and territories to provide disability services which meet the needs of people with disability, their families and carers and make sure they get a fair go.’

We want to ensure that the States deliver this program as efficiently as possible, and in a way that meets the needs of young people currently in nursing homes.

The Australian Government is contributing $122 million over the five years, from July 2006 to June 2011 with matched funding from the states and territories.

A copy of the report can be found on FaHCSIA.