first_imgElderly Australians could be forced to re-mortgage their homes if the federal government goes ahead with an “undisguised grab” of their homes as part of its aged care reforms, says a NSW pensioners group. Paul Versteege, policy coordinator of the NSW Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) told Neos Kosmos this week: “This undisguised grab for older Australians’ home equity is unfair. It takes away, whether it’s in one fell swoop or gradually, the security older Australians have worked for all their lives.” The potential reforms, which could begin to be implemented within the next three years, are a result of recommendations from the Productivity Commission, the Australian Government’s independent research and advisory body. “The key recommendation the Commission has made is to include the main family home, into the aged care means test. That was previously not the case. With home ownership rates of 85 per cent for people over 65, and perhaps higher in the Greek community I would venture, those people will be forced to access their home equity in one form or another if they need aged care. “The Commission has said that nobody will be forced to sell their house,” said Mr Versteege, “but we ask, what difference is there between you selling your house outright, and having to raise a reverse mortgage against it, either way it means you are going to lose control of the roof over your head, that’s what people have worked for all their life.” “For most people, [the new scheme] will mean either selling the family home and putting the proceeds in an Australian Age Pensioners Savings Account, or it will mean reverse-mortgaging the family home through the Australian Aged Care Home Credit Scheme.” Mr Versteege told Neos Kosmos that he believed the media had failed in its reporting of the issue. “The media has been reporting statements from organisations who support the proposals of the Productivity Commission, but those organisations are members of the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA), which is provider dominated.” 24 of the 27 members of the NACA are either aged care providers or have interests in the aged care industry. “The consumer voice is very limited and the media has given undue weight we feel to statements from organisations such as the Council of the Aging (COTA), which is a long-time member of the NACA.” Mr Versteege questioned why COTA is a member of an aged care provider dominated alliance. “It’s like the director of the consumer protection organisation Choice sitting on the board of Woolworths.” Mr Versteege added that the media has also failed to scrutinise “the stunning u-turn the Labor government has done on aged care. For years it resisted calls for the extension of accommodation bonds”. When asked to comment on the Productivity Commission’s proposed reforms and the CPSA’s criticisms, Fronditha Care’s CEO, Mr George Lekakis told Neos Kosmos: “At the end of the day, we have got to have a viable system in which we can provide services for our aged, and that’s a huge challenge for any government.” “The biggest issue in my view, is what will the government be able to deliver in its next and future funding rounds in terms of allocations for beds and community aged care packages, -that’s what will allow providers to extend services to a rapidly aging population,” said Mr Lekakis. “The arrangements for making aged care providers viable into the future is something that needs very careful consideration, ” added Fronditha’s CEO. “Whatever the reforms are, there needs to be a very widespread community education campaign to provide the best possible information to people, so that they can see how they would enter the aged care system.” “At the end of the day, the government has to decide within the context of meeting both the needs of elderly people directly, and also making the [aged care] industry viable. They have got to come to a very fine balance between those competing needs.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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