Leading Age Services Australia has been prepared to deliver hard messages on behalf our members to politicians and policy makers alike – and will continue to do so, writes Sean Rooney.
The aged services industry has faced its share of challenges in 2016, many of which will continue into 2017. Providers of aged services across the spectrum weathered a raft of government cuts, ongoing reforms, inquiries and reviews. Whether it was funding cuts to residential aged care, payment system errors, My Aged Care portal issues, state government changes to public holidays and superannuation, or workforce reviews, LASA actively engaged with state and federal governments and forcefully advocated on behalf of our members to ensure their voices were heard.
LASA’s direct advocacy activities, alongside the grass roots work and support of our members, contributed to the government’s backdown on the harshest of the ACFI changes proposed in the May 2016 budget – and a modest increase to the regional viability supplement. Our advocacy on aged care funding cuts was discernibly more outspoken than other peak bodies. This is what our members expected of us – and we delivered.
Our advocacy efforts on aged care funding cuts are far from over – the government is still taking $2 billion over four years out of the aged care sector and has not heard the last word from LASA about the need for a sustainable funding model for our industry. In 2017, LASA will be embarking on a more strategic and prolonged campaign on ageing and aged care issues to help our industry drive a positive policy agenda around ageing in Australia.
We have also been active in advocating across a range of other policy and operational fronts over the past six months including: holding the government to account in resolving payment system issues; advocating our members’ concerns regarding issues with the My Aged Care portal; participating in the future of the aged care workforce review; contributing to the review of the Living Longer, Living Better reforms; and inputting into discussions on quality, accommodation bonds and other issues of significant importance to our members. And our efforts continue in supporting our members prepare for the impending introduction of further home care reforms in February 2017.
Building on our achievements over the past six months, the benefits of LASA as a nationally unified, and locally relevant, peak body are starting to accrue for our members. Both the majority of our members who we retained in our unification transition, and the new members we are regularly attracting.
Looking to the future, we will continue to engage and advocate with fierce independence on issues of importance to our members, with key state and federal ministers, shadow ministers, Opposition leaders, minor parties, independents, crossbenchers, bureaucrats and other interest groups.
At the end of the day, the provision of affordable, accessible, quality aged care and services, delivered by a high performing, respected and sustainable aged services industry, is too important not to fight for.
Sean Rooney is the chief executive officer of Leading Age Services Australia.