Aged care demand: Tasmania the 'canary in the coal mine' for coming changes

September 7, 2016

A leading demographer has warned that Tasmania's aged care sector will experience a "tsunami" of demand in the next decade and has flagged tax reform to better fund the sector.

Bernard Salt told the Aged and Community Services Australia national summit in Hobart a tax increase was needed to adequately fund the sector.

Mr Salt said the sector was under pressure nationally, but Tasmania was already starting to experience the changes.

"In many respects Tasmania is the canary in the coal mine, because it will be the first state to really accommodate a significant shift or uplift in the number of people well over 65," he said.

"We simply will need a greater pool of taxation in order to fund the level of services for the quantum of people, for the number of people pushing in to their late 70s from the 2020s on.

"We have about 10 years to get these things right."

Mr Salt was a keynote speaker at the annual conference, which is looking at how the sector will adapt to the challenges.

About 700 hundred delegates are attending the conference which is due to finish on Friday.

National president of Aged and Community Services Australia Paul Sadler said a discussion around how much taxpayers should contribute is a difficult one.

"It's actually time for Australia to get serious about the debate about the future of aged care," Mr Sadler said.

"We now have the really difficult discussion to come. How will we fund aged care?"

Independent Economist, Saul Eslake, said there was no quick fix in meeting the demand and governments would have to reconsider tax reforms.

"You might need to revisit the question of the GST because that's a pool of revenue that under current arrangements go to states," he said.

Demand for workers set to soar

It is estimated Tasmania will need an extra 5,000 aged care workers by 2025.

Darren Matthewson from Aged and Community Services Tasmania predicts that by 2040 it will blow out to 20,000.

"It's been a problem that's been looming for some time," he said.

"We're the fastest ageing and we're the oldest [state] now. South Australia was previously the oldest.

"The major challenge we've got is particularly around workforce. We will not only have a diminished supply of workers but we've also got an ageing workforce at the moment."



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