Continence care left out of the federal budget

Despite welcome measures for the health industry in the federal budget, the Continence Foundation is calling for a more specialised approach. (iStock)

Elle Cecil

Following the recent announcement of the federal budget, the Continence Foundation of Australia is calling for further action to support the millions of Australians, like those in Hume and Whittlesea, who live with incontinence despite investments to the aged and health care sectors.

The federal government promised $468.3 million over five years in the budget to accommodate changes required as a result of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, as well as to improve and continue ongoing reforms from the previous year’s budget.

Despite welcoming many of the announced funding initiatives, the Continence Foundation believes there is room for improvement to include continence care and management as well as education of the workforce in the budget’s deliverances.

With incontinence affecting more than five million Australians, ranging from a small leak to complete loss of bowel or bladder control, the Continence Foundation is not for profit and the national peak body for incontinence prevention, management, education, awareness, information and advocacy.

“Incontinence affects more than half of Australians, and 50 per cent of those living with incontinence report that it affects their mental health,” says Rowan Cockerell, CEO of the Continence Foundation of Australia.

“Urgent action is needed because we know that the number of Australians living with incontinence will be more than 6.2 million by 2030,” she says.

The budget’s funds are directed to initiatives including the improvement of the administration of medication management for residential aged care residents ($345.7 million) and additional clinical placements for students in the sector and the expansion of a training program to new sites ($32.8 million).

Funds have also been allocated to changes including the establishment of a fund inviting states and territories to propose the trial of new models of care for residential aged care facilities ($22.1 million) and the extension of arrangements allowing for third party quality assessors to conduct residential aged care site audits ($18.3 million).

The health workforce has also been allocated $150.4 million to support regional and rural medical training, as well as over $50 million directed to support aeromedical services for remote and rural communities.

Additional funding has also been announced for varying sectors including medical research, women’s health, education and rural health.

The Continence Foundation believes that training and education on continence care and management is essential to the budget’s health care promises.

It believes that improved workforce capacity will improve the quality of life of people living with incontinence, reduce preventable health complications and unnecessary hospitalisations and delay entry to residential aged care.

The Continence Foundation’s immediate priorities are:

National leadership to set the agenda for continence care and support through systemic change and evidence-based support and care.

Increase the availability of specialist continence services and trained health professionals.

Build the capacity of the workforce across health, aging and disability sectors to support people with incontinence.

For more information on the Continence Foundation of Australia, visit