Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2011 Contents SHOULD YOUNG people be responsible for
funding the care of older people, particularly
when it is the older adults in society who have
the accumulated wealth?
This is just one of the many issues the
director general of social care for the UK's
Department of Health, David Behan, will
discuss when he visits Sydney to speak at
the Aged and Community Services Australia
(ACSA) 2011 National Conference, happening
from 12 to 15 September.
Drawing on the UK experience, Behan will
explain what his country is doing to address
its own ageing challenges; how the UK
government is responding to the demographic
changes; and the common links between the
Australian and English situation.
Behan says that, just like Australia, one
of the big issues making headlines in the UK
right now is the country's ability to fund aged
care, given the changing demographics of
"England is an ageing society," Behan
says. "The proportion of people aged over 65
years, compared to the proportion of people
aged over 18 is actually changing...By 2030
we will have double the numbers of people
aged over 85 and quadruple the figures aged
over 100. This raises issues for the future
workforce and tax base.
"So the question of how you respond to
an ageing society is as much an issue for
younger people as it is for older people, as
it is they who will have to meet the cost of
funding aged care.
"I think the lesson here in relation to the
aged care debate is about engagement.
"The debate is for society as a whole and
not just for key stakeholders and the older
Just like Australia, England has its own
version of our Productivity Commission inquiry
into aged care -- the Dilnot Commission.
Launched last July, the commission handed
down its final funding and structural reform
recommendations this month.
"Funding aged care and support was a hot
issue coming into last year's general election
which is why the new government, [led by
David Cameron,] set up this commission.
"Since the report was issued, every one
of our newspapers has published an article
on the Dilmot Commission's findings. Ageing
and age care are important issues that people
have engaged with in the UK."
Behan predicts that in order to implement
the commission's recommendations,
England's government, aged care sector and
community will have to abandon some funding
and structural measures in exchange for
"There will be a sequence of tradeoffs.
Funding and improving the quality of aged
care is a complicated problem that does not
have a single solution. What we need to do is
to go through what the tradeoffs are." The big
decision, he says, will be determining what the
tradeoffs will actually be.
Australia, he adds, may have to do
something similar -- accepting that the
government will pass one ageing policy or offer
more aged care funding for a specific area,
while ignoring needs and demands in others.
But while it is interesting for Australians
to look at the English example, Behan says
it is best that we develop our own answers
to problems which are very personal to our
culture, history, economy and people.
"You can't just pick up a solution from
Japan and drop it in Australia. And you can't
just pick up a solution from Canada and drop
it down in Britain. You will have to decide
when will your new system begin, when will
you change the laws, how much notice will
you give people and what your 'settling in'
phase will be. These are not easy, simple
straightforward issues." n
THE RIGHT DEBATE
The ACSA 2011 National Conference
will be held at the Sydney Convention
and Exhibition Centre from Monday 12
to Thursday 15 September 2011.
The conference theme -- Are we
listening to older Australians? -- will
encourage people working in aged care
to not only listen to the needs of older
people but to act. The plenary and
concurrent sessions, including a panel
of experts mediated by the ABC's Tony
Jones [Q&A], will inform and inspire
delegates as the industry embarks on a
new era of reform.
To register or for more information,
2011 ACSA National
ACSA's upcoming national conference
-- quite possibly the last stand-alone
national ACSA event - is destined for aged
care history in this 'year of wonders'. Amid
the excitement, Yasmin Noone caught
up with one of the keynote speakers.
"The debate is
for society as
a whole and
not just for key
the older people
AAA | JULY -- AUGUST 2011 | 91
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