Summary of the Australian 2021-2022 Budget and its impact on the exercise & sports science industry

12 May 2021

The Australian Government released the 2021-2022 Budget on Tuesday, 11 May 2021. Full details of the Health Portfolio Budget information (including sport) is available below in this member statement.

The Treasurers’ speech is available here.

The Budget in Reply Speech from the Leader of the Opposition is available here.

*Primary Care: Medicare items for allied health case conferencing
The biggest item to impact on allied health is $14.2 million to list six new items on the MBS for allied health providers who participate in case conferencing over 4 years from 2021-22 to reimburse allied health professionals for participating in multidisciplinary case conferences.

The new items will mirror those for other participating providers, including the scheduled fee and duration.

This measure will increase care coordination for patients with chronic disease and further embed our world class allied health practitioners in multidisciplinary care.

ESSA supported the introduction case conference items for allied health professionals in its response to the Response to the MBS Review Taskforce Specialist and Consultant Physician Consultation Clinical Committee Report in December 2018.

Medicare: Telehealth
As previously announced by Minister Hunt on 26 April 2021, the Australian Government has committed to extending universal telehealth until 31 December 2021.

The Government is continuing to work with key stakeholders to develop a permanent telehealth model and welcomes ESSA’s input throughout this process.

Medicare/Rural Health: GP Bulk Billing
Bulk billing GP rebates will be increased for patients in regional, rural and remote areas. More information here.

Aged Care
The Australian Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report released on 26 February 2021 is a major feature of the budget.

Funding includes:
  • $6.5 billion over four years to release 80,000 additional home care packages over two years from 2021-22. This will bring the total number of home care packages to 275,598 by June 2023.
  • $365.7 million to improve access to primary care and other health services in residential aged care, and additional investment in digital and face-to-face assistance to make it easier to navigate the aged care system.
  • $228.2 million to support the establishment of a single aged care assessment workforce for residential care from October 2022, and for home care from July 2023. The Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) will replace the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) in Residential Aged Care from October 2022.
  • New support at home program: A new support at home program will be developed in consultation with senior Australians and community stakeholders, commencing in July 2023. The program will replace the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Home Care Packages, Short-Term Restorative Care, and residential respite programs. The new support at home program will better target services to senior Australians’ assessed care needs by creating a continuum of support. This will range from one-off restorative interventions and low-level support around the house, through to help with complex care needs, including people living with dementia. Allied health services will continue to be funded under the new program.
  • Allied health data gap analysis project: $0.7 million in 2021-22 for an allied health data gap analysis to improve the visibility, transparency and impact of allied health services to better support an aged care workforce of the future.

Health Workforce
The Australian Government is investing $123.0 million over five years from 2020-21 to ensure that the health workforce is available to improve the health and well-being of all Australians. These measures support the delivery of health services especially in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia and will benefit communities and their residents.

This investment builds on and supports implementation of the Government’s ten-year Stronger Rural Health Strategy announced in the 2018-19 Budget. The reform package will help deliver more doctors, nurses and allied health workers outside of capital cities and into regional, rural and remote areas, and will help ensure equity of health care access for all Australians regardless of where they live.

Expansion of Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway
$9.6 million over three years from 2021-22 to expand the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway (AHRGP) to provide:
  • Up to 90 workplace training packages to attract and retain allied health professionals, predominantly in Modified Monash (MM) 3-7 locations.
  • 30 packages allocated to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
  • 30 Allied Health Assistant packages to provide tailored practice and workforce support for allied health practitioners to establish and/or maintain viable practices in under-serviced communities.

Post-graduate scholarships for allied health
$5.4 million over three years to fund 100 new post-graduate scholarships each year for allied health professionals with a focus on dementia qualifications with five of these scholarships each year will be targeted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mental Health
The Government is investing $2.3 billion in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to lead landmark reform in mental health support and treatment for Australians in need.

The Plan will invest $1.4 billion in high quality and person-centred treatment, which includes the development of a national network of mental health treatment centres for adults, youth and children through the Head to Health and headspace programs.

More details are available here.

There are no specific initiatives to expand mental health programs to include exercise physiology services.

Curriculum development in intellectual disability health
$4.6 million over four years for curriculum development in intellectual disability health.

This measure will support further consultation on the inclusion of mandatory competencies in health care for people with intellectual disability in tertiary education health curricula, and the development of specific and specialised curricula content.

Funding includes:
  • $82.2 million over three years from 2021-22 to extend funding for the Athlete Performance Pathways program and for Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement services.
  • $50.6 million over three years from 2021-22 for high performance sports grants to National Sport Organisations to support high performance programs for Olympic and Paralympic sports to compete on the world stage.
  • $40.8 million over two years from 2021-22 for the Sporting Schools program, to assist Australian children of all abilities to be more physically active and to establish lifelong healthy behaviours.

Digital Economy Strategy
The Government is investing almost $1.2 billion in Australia’s digital future through the Digital Economy Strategy. Key elements of this strategy that will impact on health care include:

Enhancing Government services
  • $200.1 million to enhance myGov to deliver a simpler and more tailored experience for Australians based on their preferences and interactions.
  • $301.8 million to enhance the My Health Record system, adding support for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, connecting Residential Aged Care Facilities and connecting specialists in private practice and delivering improved telehealth, emerging virtual health care initiatives and digitised support across all stages of health care.

Small-to-Medium Enterprises digitalisation
  • Helping small and medium businesses build their digital capacity through a $12.7 million expansion of the Digital Solutions - Australian Small Business Advisory Service, and $15.3 million to drive business uptake of e-Invoicing.

Rural primary care model trials
$1.8 million over five years from 2021-22 to fund trials of innovative, multidisciplinary primary care models to alleviate ongoing workforce shortages and improve outcomes in rural communities in MM3-7.

This measure builds on trials already underway in Western and Southern NSW and provides an opportunity for similar trials in other locations around Australia.

National Preventive Health Strategy
Because of COVID-19, the development of the National Preventive Health Strategy has been delayed. The Government is working to finalise this strategy this year and ESSA anticipates that funding will be made available to fund the strategy in next year’s budget.

Notwithstanding this, the Government recently announced a $23.7 million grant program to support peak health groups and advisory bodies to contribute to the national health agenda and priorities set out in Australia’s National Preventive Health Strategy. More information on this grant opportunity (GO ID:GO4487) is available on:

National Obesity Strategy
The strategy was under development under the auspices of the old COAG Health Council. Queensland Health is leading the development of the obesity strategy and because of COVID-19, the strategy is yet to be finalised. As a consequence, there are no budget allocations for this the strategy in this year’s budget.

Women’s Health
The Government has committed $353.9 million over the next four years to support women’s health, including funding for cervical and breast cancer, endometriosis and reproductive health.

*Income Tax
To support household income and create more jobs, the Government will deliver an additional $7.8 billion in tax cuts by retaining the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) in 2021-22. This will benefit 10 million people who earn up to $90,000 a year, sparing them a tax increase.

*Extending tax support for business
The Government will continue to support Australian businesses to invest, grow and create more jobs by extending the two tax incentives announced in the 2020-21 Budget by one year — temporary full expensing and temporary loss carry-back.

The Government has extended the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) (New Homes) and established a new program called the Family Home Guarantee.

From 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, an extra 10,000 places will be made available under the New Home Guarantee, allowing first home buyers to buy a home with as little as a 5% deposit.

The Family Home Guarantee provides eligible single parents with dependents the opportunity to build a new home or purchase an existing home with a deposit of 2%, subject to the individual’s ability to service a home loan. From 1 July 2021, 10,000 Family Home Guarantees will be made available over four financial years.

The maximum amount of voluntary contributions that can be released under the First Home Super Saver Scheme will be increased from $30,000 to $50,000.

More information is available here.

Child Care
Starting on 1 July 2022 the Government will:
  • Increase the childcare subsidies available to families with more than one child aged five and under in child care, benefitting around 250,000 families.
  • Remove the $10,560 cap on the Child Care Subsidy, benefitting around 18,000 families.

More information is available here.

Funding includes:
  • $42.4 million over seven years from 2021-22 to establish the Boosting the Next Generation of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program by co-funding scholarships for women in STEM in partnership with industry.
  • $38.3 million over five years from 2021-22 to increase grant funding available through the Women's Leadership and Development Program.

Private Health Insurance
The Government will continue the current policy settings for the income thresholds for the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) and Private Health Insurance Rebate for a further two years from 1 July 2021, whilst a review of the MLS Policy settings is undertaken.

From 1 September 2021, exercise physiology services will be treated in the same way as other musculoskeletal services in terms of same day treatment, so that these services cannot be provided on the same day as another musculoskeletal service (physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic). This ensures DVA clients receive clinically effective treatment for musculoskeletal conditions.

Funding includes:
  • $164.6 million over two years from 2021-22 to support departmental operations and processing of claims for rehabilitation, compensation and income support submitted by veterans and their dependents.
  • $40.7 million (including $12.4 million in capital funding in 2022-23) to develop a fully-integrated Data Sharing Analytics Solution to provide DVA and the Department of Defence with improved data to better identify and prevent long-term illness and injury through longitudinal data analysis.
  • $21.4 million over four years to expand DVA’s data and analytical capability in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to monitor and respond to veterans’ health and well-being needs in real-time.

Medical Research
Funding includes:
  • $6.0 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement, Encouraging More Clinical Trials in Australia, and removing barriers for conducting clinical trials.

Insurance – northern Australia

More affordable access to insurance will be available through a reinsurance pool to cover cyclone and related flood damage in northern Australia from 1 July 2022, and will be backed by a $10 billion government guarantee.

National Recovery and Resilience Agency
The Australian Government launched the National Recovery and Resilience Agency on 5 May 2021 to support local communities to respond to major disasters. The new Agency will combine the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency. More information is available here.