The new Inspector-General of Aged Care Bill has officially been presented to Parliament, beginning the process for the legislation to be passed that will increase transparency and accountability in the aged care industry.
Announced last year, The Inspector-General of Aged Care will independently monitor, analyse and report on systemic issues within the aged care sector, as well as the Government’s administration and regulation of the sector.
The Inspector-General and their office will have unrivalled information-gathering powers to help drive positive change.
There will be a wait as the Bill, which was officially introduced to Parliament on Wednesday, will need to be passed into legislation so the independent body can be established.
“The Albanese Government is ambitious for aged care and demands accountability and transparency from the sector,” Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, said.
“Systemic problems must be thoroughly understood if they are to be effectively corrected.
“We can list every error or fault in the aged care system until we are blue in the face… but pointing out faults does not address the root causes of the problems that are embedded in the structural design of our aged care system.”
Minister Wells said that all findings and recommendations made by the Inspector-General will be tabled in Parliament and made available to the public.
The Government is confident that the Bill will pass quickly, and once the legislation is in place, work can begin on implementation in the second half of the year.
Ian Yates AM, the former Chief Executive (CE) of the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia is the current Interim Inspector-General, however, a permanent Inspector-General cannot be appointed until legislation is officially passed.
Although Mr Yates does not have the full powers of the Inspector-General, he has been building the foundations for the review program and identifying top priorities for analysis.
“Through tackling long-standing and pervasive issues within the aged care system, I am confident we can steer a course towards an aged care system that meets the diverse needs of older Australians, their families and carers,” he explained
“An aged care system that is accountable and transparent, and which the community can have confidence in.
“The Inspector-General of Aged Care Bill is an integral part of achieving this.”
Mr Yates has said he wants the aged care sector to be confident and reassured by the presence of the Office of Inspector-General, and that it will be there to work alongside providers.
Much of this will be informed by public feedback received over the last few months, from a “broad cross-section of aged care stakeholders”.
Mr Yates highlighted the role’s independence from the Department of Health and Aged Care, and the Government as a whole, as key to maintaining an impartial approach to regulating the Government’s involvement in aged care.
“This will safeguard the Inspector-General’s independence and guarantee them the impartiality required to monitor, investigate and report on systemic issues across the aged care system without fear or favour,” he said.
“In the meantime, as the Interim Inspector-General, supported by the Interim Office, I will continue to lead [the] establishment of the new Office and my team and I will start delivering the work of the Inspector-General as far as we can. Watch this space.”
The permanent Inspector-General is expected to be appointed later this year once the legislation has passed.