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Census data: Aged care reform crucial for our ageing population

Release date: 30 Jun 2022

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The latest Census data shows urgent reform for Australia’s aged care sector should be a priority to support growth in our older population and a marked jump in the number of older people needing assistance.

Census figures reveal:

  • The number of those aged 65 and over increased by more than 700,000 since the 2016 Census, bringing the total to approximately 4.4 million older Australians.

  • Overall the number of older people needing assistance has jumped from about 642,822 to around 963,048, an increase of 49.8% since the last census.

  • The number of people who need assistance in their day-to-day lives with self-care, mobility and communication has seen increases across age brackets for people over 65. These are up 10% for people 65-74, 23% for people 75-84, and then 55% for people 85+. 

  • There are about 190,000 people with dementia, the vast majority of whom are aged over 65. Dementia is also the long-term health condition that is most commonly associated with a need for assistance.

Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) Interim CEO Paul Sadler said, “The Census results are a timely reminder that in order to treat older Australians with dignity and respect, we must plan for the future and reform the aged care sector now.

“While the headlines have been about the growing number of Millennials in our population, the Census has also shows the number of Australians aged 65 is the largest it has ever been.

“The growth seen in this Census is closely consistent with recent population estimates, but it sits a little above the last set of long-term projections from 2018. This should be a clear prompt for the government to re-evaluate its current plans for residential and at-home aged care services, and what this means for the sector’s future.

“We’re also experiencing large growth in the number of older Australians who need assistance, accelerating the pressure on the aged care system as it implements Royal Commission recommendations and grapples with Covid outbreaks and a workforce crisis.

“This growth in Australia’s older population and the assistance they need to access quality care shows why the Prime Minister was right to nominate fixing aged care as a key priority for Labor and must remain a national focus.

“Aged care reform that addresses the ongoing workforce and funding crises must continue to be on the table if we are to give quality care that supports this expansion of Australia’s older population.

“We look forward to working with Mark Butler, Anika Wells, and Ged Kearney on this critical issue.” Mr Sadler said.

ACCPA is engaging with the government to examine ways to progress aged care reform and more specifically how aged care can be made a more attractive career. Options for consideration ACCPA plans to raise include:

  • Higher pay so that casual and part-time staff work more hours

  • Ensure aged care facilities are better staffed

  • Improve working conditions with access to child care

  • Support professional develop of the personal carer role

  • Improved training and staff development

  • Greater skilled migration

Media contact: Kate Hannon 0499 106 957 or Zerene Catacutan (Essential) 0422 815 248

About Aged & Community Care Providers Association:

ACCPA is the national association for all providers of aged and community care in Australia from 1 July 2022. It unites the aged care sector’s two largest organisations, Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), for a stronger voice for aged care providers.

As the peak body representing church, charitable and community-based organisations providing accommodation and care services to older people, people with a disability and their carers, ACSA can be contacted for comment on issues affecting the industry.

Areas ACSA may provide media commentary on include:  

  • Aged care reforms
  • Residential aged care
  • Home care
  • Independent and retirement living
  • Housing for older Australians
  • Palliative care
  • The aged care workforce in Australia

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