Submitted to The Treasury (January 2022).
Each year, the Australian Government hands down the Budget, an annual statement outlining how it plans to collect and spend money. In the lead up to the Budget's development, the Government seeks feedback from community, businesses and organisations about what should be included in the Budget.
Dietitians Australia highlighted 13 priorities for the 2022-23 Federal Budget. Focus areas included health policy, aged care, the Medicare Benefits Schedule, food-based dietary guidelines and rural healthcare.
There is an urgent need for the Federal Government to update the 1992 National Food and Nutrition Policy into an up-to-date National Nutrition Strategy with a well-resourced, co-ordinated, evidence-based and strategic action plan.
The aged care sector should receive additional funding to engage Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) to improve malnutrition screening practises and existing nutrition, food and dining experiences.
Medicare Benefits Schedule
Medicare reforms are essential to support early detection and intervention. Fit-for-purpose Medicare item numbers should be introduced to support people with mental health conditions and people with disability to access appropriate levels of nutrition therapy.
Australians with chronic health conditions should have access to 10 rebated allied health service consultations annually - an increase to the existing 5 consultations. Rebates for extended dietetic consultations should also be introduced to help Australians better access healthcare.
Australian Dietary Guidelines review
Funding is required to develop Dietary Guidelines for Older Australians, prioritising public education, implementation and evaluation of the new Australian Dietary Guidelines.
Regional, rural and remote health care
Healthcare should be better set up to serve people living in regional, rural and remote Australia. Scholarships for allied health students undertaking clinical placement in regional areas should be reintroduced to support workforce growth, and regional communications infrastructure must be improved to support access to telehealth.
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