Nov 17, 2021

25 peak bodies take action against government’s lack of commitment for new aged care reform

25 peak bodies take action against govt

Leading advocates for older Australians are concerned the government might be backing away from its commitment to support the royal commission’s recommendation to develop a rights-based aged care system in Australia.

The royal commission’s first recommendation was to draft a new rights-based Aged Care Act to be in force by 1 July 2023. 

A coalition of 25 peak bodies for older people has issued a statement to say that the royal commission’s decision to make this recommendation its first “highlighted the importance and centrality of this new Act to truly transforming the current aged care system”.

“It seems that we’re going back to [a system where] we’re just going to look after older people and be nice and fluffy,” Mr Gear continued. 

“But we ended up with a royal commission [in the current system] because people’s rights were being breached,” he added. 

The coalition’s members include the OPAN, Council on the Ageing, Dementia Australia, National Seniors, Carers Australia and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Association.

Though the government has accepted recommendation one, the coalition is concerned that in subsequent discussions about the new Act, rights have not been “prominent”.

The government has also accepted recommendations two and three, which call for specific rights and principles for older people to be included in the Act.

The coalition says that older people have been saying to them that the proposed ‘principles’ should, in fact, be ‘rights’.

“Rights of older people receiving aged care need to be expanded to ensure an extensive range of rights are adequately captured,” the coalition says. 

They suggest the following rights are included in a rights-based Act:

  • the right to services being available in a timely manner, integrated with the community, to be locally available and to be in the least restrictive environment.
  • the right to liberty, freedom of movement, and freedom from physical and chemical restraint.
  • the right to have diversity supported and promoted.
  • the right to a quality end of life – with appropriate and timely access to palliative care supports and expertise.
  • for people providing informal care, the right to access supports in accordance with needs and to enable enjoyment of the rights to social participation.

The aged care quality standards do not directly refer to rights, while the aged care ‘Charter of rights’ outlines the rights every aged care provider should respect, but it is not enforceable.

“The current charter is good in theory, but it’s very difficult to enforce,” said Mr Gear.

“The system is not rights-based and does not have the resources and structures in place to ensure the rights of older people are upheld,” the coalition says. 

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) uses a rights-based approach under the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disability.

According to a report in The Australian, both sides of politics are concerned about the potential for cost blowouts delivering aged care services to a growing population of older people.

The coalition is calling for older people themselves to be involved in co-designing the new Act, and for the aged care workforce to have “the right numbers and skill mix” to meet the needs of older people.

The government has committed to consulting on details of the new Act through a new Elders Council and a new Aged Care Advisory Council, but neither has been established yet.

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  1. 25 peak bodies (supposedly advocating for older Australians) – perhaps this is also part of the overall problem…..

  2. Not much point in listening to what a Government says, that only reflects the “talking points” for this week.

    Watch what they do. They gave away $billions to profitable companies in Job Keeper, they continue to exempt real estate agents and lawyers from anti money laundering legislation and they allow Trusts to be used to convert otherwise taxable income into something else.

    Now watch again, there will be no money for rights based Aged Care, no money to deal with equity issues. I wonder where the money went.

  3. “The current charter is good in theory, but it’s very difficult to enforce,” said Mr Gear.

    The role of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is to protect and enhance the safety, health, well-being and quality of life of people receiving aged care.
    The Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission is the national end-to-end regulator of aged care services, and the primary point of contact for consumers and providers in relation to quality and safety.
    The agency is the body responsible to promote high quality care and services to safeguard everyone who is receiving Australian Government funded aged Care.

    The ACQ&SC has FAILED in the past (the reports from the AC Royal Commission confirms this claim) and continues to do so.

    I experienced a situation (since the ACRC) where the AC Minister’s office issued instructions to the ACQ&SC on my behalf. The ACQ&SC ignored the directive.

    We need to replace this ‘toothless tiger’ immediately.

  4. It all looks good in theory putting into practice is another issue. I’ve been involved in many of these kind of recommendations when I advocated and worked in mental health as a lived experience person. Sadly the same issues that have been around for decades have not progressed much in mental health. Yet millions of dollars have been spent in a number of settings in mental health. Will these initiates only lead to more money being ploughed into all talk and no real action.


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