In light of the recent flood events and the evolving climate of the pandemic, key learnings to date have shown that there have been positive developments at state and federal levels. The recent Federal Budget announcements around cost of living and Federal Government reaffirmation around its commitment and investment to aged care reform, continued investment in home care, respite services, and medication management and safety, are welcomed.
However, there still needs to be a focus on local capacity and community responses and how these can be best supported (and collaboratively through public, private and community sectors).
COTA Queensland’s 2022/23 Budget submission highlights the areas that the State Government must address to work towards a healthier ageing Queensland:
- age-friendly environments (including a healthy ageing framework that combats key areas such as elder abuse
- integrated age-friendly health system
- social isolation and loneliness
- palliative care
- mature age employment
- housing affordability
- concessions, affordable and accessible transport; and
- affordable and efficient energy.
COTA Queensland highlights in particular the following recommendations as key to building healthy ageing communities in regional, rural, and remote (RRR) areas:
As part of our recommendations for an Integrated Age-Friendly Health System, we advocate for the formation of a statewide action network where representatives of regional, rural, and metropolitan areas develop an integrated system of care based on local knowledge. COTA Queensland would co-ordinate local and state meetings facilitated by design professionals with a two-year time frame for completion.
As part of our recommendations for more affordable housing and to enable those Queenslanders with a disability and those eligible 60 years and over to have a more realistic opportunity to undertake necessary home improvements and maintenance, we request that the Queensland Government increase the labour subsidy, the annual cap and the job cost limit to levels that reflect the actual cost of having building construction and maintenance work undertaken in Queensland.
Consideration should also be given to whether the funding support provided to some regional/remote clients would need to be increased to reflect the higher costs involved in accessing both labour and materials.
As part of our recommendations for Telehealth, we urge the Queensland Government to continue to invest in support for telehealth services throughout the state. Uptake in telehealth services in the state throughout the pandemic, evidences the need for ongoing services particularly in RRR communities. These should be integrated into the model of care across Queensland Health. We also acknowledge the reports from some Primary Health Networks (PHNs) where connectivity and consumer/patient literacy were issues for implementation of services and provision and maintenance of supports such as hardware, software and training.
As part of our recommendations for concessions, we ask the Queensland Government to maintain the relative value of concessions where prices increase. Concessions should be adjusted annually to minimise cost of living increases for older adults. This adjustment should consider the needs of people in areas of Queensland where the cost of living is higher.
Finally, as part of the recommendations for affordable and accessible transport, we strongly encourage the Queensland Government to undertake a comprehensive review and co-design of the Queensland transport network to assess how effectively it serves diverse Queenslanders throughout the state.