Regional seniors will benefit from reinforced and prioritised support for Meals on Wheels and similar services as people adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and stay at home.

Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Michael McCormack said this $59.3 million measure was an important step to ensure some of our most vulnerable residents received the support they needed.

“I cannot stress how important it is for our older residents to stay home as this crisis continues to unfold,” Mr McCormack said.

“The Federal Government is acutely aware of what this means which is why we have made this announcement today.

“This funding will ensure more prepared meals, food staples and essential daily items make it to those who need them the most.”

In total, $50 million will fund 3.4 million meals for 41,000 people for six weeks – the equivalent of two meals a day.

The remaining $9.3 million will be used to buy 36,000 emergency food supplies boxes.

“This is a serious health challenge and we all need to do our part to help prevent the spread of this virus,” Mr McCormack said.

This announcement comes after a historic $130 billion support package for employees which will shield around six million working Australians from losing their job.

To date, the Government’s total support for the economy during this crisis totals $320 billion or 16.4 per cent of GDP.

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The latest targeted package of support will:

• Prioritise home delivery for senior Australians registered with My Aged Care, ensuring direct access to grocery suppliers via online and phone ordering

• Ensure the availability of prepared meals and essentials services, with an extra $50 million to support aged care providers, and with more flexibility for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)

• Work with supermarkets and commercial providers – that have been supporting airlines and the entertainment industry and now have spare capacity- to support Meals on Wheels services

It’s hoped local catering businesses, particularly in regional areas, will also continue operating and supporting CHSP services.

Senior Australians who are isolated and do not have access to the internet, will be able to call the My Aged Care contact centre direct for access to basic food and necessities.