The Hon. F. PANGALLO (14:58): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Human Services about the personal alert systems rebate scheme.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: For a number of years the state government has been subsidising monitored personal alert systems for our most vulnerable senior citizens in their homes. This has been a very generous and worthwhile initiative by the previous Labor government and is to be applauded because it has saved so many lives. The system provides security, a level of independence and peace of mind for not only those who have it because of their health or frail condition in their homes but also their families, who can be contacted in the event of any incidents in which the alert is triggered and ambulances are called.
However, I understand the government, in another of its mean-spirited cost-cutting measures, is now making access to the scheme even harder by asking people to now apply through My Aged Care. My question to the minister is:
1. Can the minister confirm that it is reducing funding for the scheme and by what amount?
2. Who will be eligible under any new changes?
3. For what possible reason has the decision been made?
4. What will happen to those who already have the system and cannot afford any gap that will apply?
5. If their system becomes non-functional, what will happen to the hundreds of people who are still on waiting lists expecting this life-saving device, considering the already long delays that exist with applications to get My Aged Care?
6. Did the government consult with aged care and welfare organisations before making its decision?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:00): I thank the honourable member for his question. Changes will indeed be taking place to the Personal Alert Systems Rebate Scheme from 1 July. I think it's important to point out, too, that service models change over time. I am going to say that comment probably many times in relation to a range of matters as we make changes to particular schemes. I think I have certainly made those comments in relation to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The Personal Alert Systems Rebate Scheme was, from what I understand, established in 2011 for good reason, and it is a very useful service for a number of older people. However, there have been changes to the way funding arrangements have been made. We have seen that extensively through the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and we have also seen that in the aged-care space. We are trying to ensure that the duplication between that scheme and the commonwealth government's aged-care services is minimised.
People who receive the lowest levels of funding for commonwealth home care support will continue to be eligible for the scheme. People who receive high levels of commonwealth home support will no longer be eligible for the scheme as they will be able to access a personal alert system through their package. Assessment through My Aged Care, which is the commonwealth portal, ensures elderly people who require support to remain independent in their homes are aware of and are able to access all support services available to them.
The reduction in the maximum annual subsidy for monitoring is being reduced from $250 per annum to $200 per annum, and that will take place from 1 October 2019. My understanding is that one of the providers has already reduced their monitoring fees to ensure that people on that scheme will not pay any gap.
The $380 rebate available to purchase a monitored personal alert scheme remains unchanged. These changes were necessary to protect the future sustainability of the scheme, which has been increasing in recent years, and have ensured that we don't have to make other difficult decisions, such as capping the number of new entrants to the scheme.
This will also be a trigger for people who are interested in support at home to actually seek an assessment through My Aged Care, which is going to be a positive impact, because more South Australians will engage with My Aged Care and will be advised about other support services that they may not have been aware of.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Pangallo, a supplementary.