Threat to council-run aged care services

196-001[By Sue Bolton] One of the services which local councils in Victoria provide is Home and Community Care (HACC). Currently, it is funded jointly by federal and state governments with a top-up from local councils. This service is for people who are elderly or who have a disability or are recovering from an operation and it can include: personal care, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance and community transport.

In 2013, the state and federal governments and local councils represented by the Australian Local Government Association signed an agreement that the federal government would take over the HACC program in return for the states funding NDIS.

The federal government will rename it to Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP). The catch is that from June 2019, the federal government will use a compulsory competitive tendering model for this program. Councils around Victoria are deciding whether they should put in council tenders to run the program in their area, go in jointly with private partners or outsource.

A large percentage of council workers are employed in the HACC program where some staff have been caring for people for up to 20 years. The overwhelming majority of these workers are women and they are very poorly paid despite doing really important work.

While the 2013 agreement about the changes to the HACC program are public, these changes, which could result in a significant loss of jobs and a serious reduction in service, are not generally known in the community. Councils and governments are not going out of their way to publicise what they are doing.

Meanwhile, the state government is planning to privatise all disability services with the introducation of NDIS, and NDIS is based on the same market model which has destroyed our public TAFE system and resulted in hundreds of dodgy private training providers.

We have some serious issues with the marketisation of our services. We need to keep ALL of these services in public hands.