Australia’s councils have collectively backed the principle of a universal entitlement to aged care that recognises the preference of people to remain in their own homes and in their own regions.

A motion calling on the federal government to provide support for the principle was unanimously passed at the National General Assembly of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) in Canberra on Monday.

The motion, moved by Queensland’s Lockyer Valley Regional Council, said the broader failures in aged care identified in the aged care royal commission were being keenly felt in rural and regional areas.

Australian Local Government Association President Linda Scott opens the 2021 national general assembly.

It was important for local governments to advocate on behalf of their communities for equitable access to aged care, and to ensure the commission’s key recommendations are adopted and implemented across the regions they serve, it said.

The motion notes that a system of aged care based on a universal right to high quality, safe and timely support  will help older people live an active, self-determined and meaningful life and that equitable access must be achieved through more flexible, integrated service provision.

“Recognition that many people prefer to stay in their homes and communities is a key concern,” the motion states.

Appropriate care models for regional areas

Councils also resolved to call on the government to develop appropriate models of aged care for rural and remote areas and to develop an aged care assessment program with adequate funding for rural and remote communities.

Another Queensland council, Central Highlands, said in its motion that it is important for service providers to innovatively develop models of care that work in rural and remote areas, taking into choice, transport issues and accessibility to specialists.

“The concept of consumer choice is more constrained as you progress into more remote locations,” it says.

Central Highlands’ motion also backed the royal commission’s recommendation for a single independent aged care assessment program and said this must be made available to aged care clients regardless of locality.

The motion said the number of Australians aged over 85 is projected to increase to up to 1.5 million by 2058 and the wait time for the assessment process under the current system is unacceptable.

All three motions passed without objection and will now go back to ALGA before being formally adopted.

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