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Day-after snapshot analysis

Published Wednesday 15 May 2024

The Treasurer delivered the Federal Budget last night, Tuesday 14 May. Overview documents and budget papers are available here

The below is a short summary of the Budget that is relevant to Occupational Therapy. Please note that OTA will be providing a more detailed overview this Friday. And in the leadup to the budget, OTA has been active in the news media. Click here for updates.

Aged Care
The Government will provide $2.2 billion over five years from 2024–25 to deliver key aged care reforms and to continue to implement recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

With OT as one of the most in-demand allied health professions within the aged care space, OTA calls out the oversights in this year’s budget with the absence of an explicit reference to the lack of implementation of the recommendations made by the Royal Commission to improve allied health services in aged care.

The Government will provide $531.4 million to release an additional 24,100 Home Care Packages in 2024–25, but the Budget does not address the continued shortages in the allied health workforce for home care.

The Budget has announced $214 million over two years to fight fraud and to codesign NDIS reforms with people with disability, announced earlier this year.

OTA supports codesign but Occupational Therapy Australia and OT providers must be consulted in the process to develop a sound approach to the redesign and reform of the NDIS, especially the design of the assessment process.

OTA is disappointed to see no investment in the delivery of therapy supports like occupational therapy that are designed to support people with disability. 

Mental Health
The Budget announced $361 million over four years to expand the range of free mental health services which will include funding Primary Health Networks, in partnership with general practices, to bring on mental health nurses and other allied health supports to provide free care coordination and support to patients with complex needs, in between GP and specialist appointments.

OTA is hopeful that mental health OTs are finally being recognised. OTA welcomes increased funding for Primary Health Networks for multidisciplinary care including allied health supports for patients with complex needs. Mental health occupational therapists are highly trained in supporting people with complex mental health needs. 

In the face of unprecedented workforce shortages, it was disappointing to see occupational therapists and other registered allied health professionals were not included in the Budget’s announced funding of clinical placements for students.

Occupational therapists must complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of unpaid placements and clinical fieldwork, including in regional, rural and remote settings. Unpaid clinical placements disadvantage many students and make it harder for Australia to meet the growing demand for occupational therapists.

Read OTA’s statement to members on this important issue here, and associated news media coverage here.

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