Aligning regulation across the care and support sectors
In the 2021–22 Budget the Australian Government committed to align regulation to improve quality and safety for participants and consumers and remove unnecessary duplication of obligations for service providers and workers to work more seamlessly across different types of care.
Stage 1 Consultation update
Workshops on regulatory alignment across the care and support sectors with providers and peak bodies are closed.
All stakeholders including the broader community will have the opportunity to have their say on regulatory alignment as part of Stage 2 consultations beginning in late October.
Find out more about our consultation approach.
About the measure
Commonwealth agencies will be working together to deliver on the care and support regulatory alignment reform program:
- Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC)
- Department of Health
- Department of Social Services (DSS)
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)
- NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission).
These reforms will seek to improve quality and safety for participants/consumers and remove unnecessary duplication of obligations for service providers and workers to work more seamlessly across different types of care.
This commitment was in addition to a range of comprehensive reforms to aged care. To find out more about the broader aged care reforms, or how to get involved, go to the Aged Care Engagement Hub.
Our alignment approach is guided by an agreed set of principles. Read our fact sheet to learn more.
What is regulation?
At the Commonwealth level, regulation includes legislation and rules, guidelines and forms, reporting requirements, and other ways of setting expectations for how supports and services should be delivered.
The practice of regulation may include the following functions:
- informing and educating
- making rules, codes of conduct, or standards
- granting (and revoking) approvals or registration
- promoting and monitoring quality services and compliance
- handling complaints from the public
- enforcing compliance.
These are the ways regulators ensure quality and provide safeguards for participants and consumers of aged care, disability support and veterans’ care.
Why alignment of regulation is important
Australia’s care and support sectors encompass a broad range of supports and services that enable people to live safely, with dignity and with independence for longer.
Similar services are provided across aged care, disability support and veterans’ care. While some differences are appropriate, duplication in regulatory requirements may be a barrier to consistent, efficient, high quality and safe services for senior Australians, people with disability and veterans.
For consumers and participants, this means care and support services will:
- strengthen protections to ensure consistent quality and safety for participants and consumers
- be person-centred and address the different care and supports an individual's needs
- provide more choice.
For providers and workers in the care and support sectors, this means:
- it will be easier for service providers and workers to deliver services across the sector
- workers will have increased flexibility and mobility across sectors
- duplication of reporting will be reduced where possible
- best practice regulation can be implemented across sectors, while ensuring differences across sectors are appropriately catered for.
Cross sector regulatory alignment activities
The Government has already identified a number of shorter-term activities to align care and support sector regulation, including:
- changing laws to improve how regulators share information, and aligning the compliance and enforcement powers between regulators
- exploring ways to align requirements for behaviour support and restrictive practices to better protect people who receive care and support
- trialling combined assessments/audits for aged care and the NDIS, reducing costs for providers while still achieving the goals of the audit and assessment processes
- reviewing standards to work towards a shared core set of care and support standards
- assessing quality and safeguarding in grants, procurement and panels and looking for ways to align requirements and processes
- reviewing the regulatory frameworks and looking for ways to align registration and accreditation processes to make it easier for providers to expand across the care and support sectors
- a common Code of Conduct to establish common foundational obligations for providers and workers
- develop a Care and Support Worker Screening Check to screen workers to avoid risk of harm, while making it easier for workers to work across the aged care, veterans’ care and disability support sectors.
To be involved in consultations related to the above activities, please visit the Engagement Hub.
Among the key deliverables is the development of a Roadmap for medium to longer term regulatory alignment (the Roadmap). The Roadmap will outline the outcomes we are seeking from regulatory alignment and the steps to achieve them.
The development of the Roadmap will be informed through a consultation process, taking a staged approach.
Consultations will occur in 3 stages.
- Stage 1 – Workshops with providers and peak bodies between 15 – 20 October.
- Stage 2 – Release of a consultation paper in late October, consisting of an online survey, written submissions and workshops for all other stakeholders and the broader community.
- Stage 3 – Release of consultation findings – early 2022.
This staged approach will enable providers and peak bodies to provide industry-specific considerations on regulatory alignment, which will inform the broader consultation process. Tailored approaches to engage with consumers and carers will be developed in parallel and implemented as part of stage 2.
A Senior Officer Group on Regulatory Alignment (comprising Senior Executive across Agencies) was established in June 2021 to support implementation of the Australian Government’s budget measure.
Read the SOG terms of reference.
- Guaranteeing access to essential supports and services | Department of Social Services Ministers
- Aligning regulation across the care and support sector fact sheet
- NDIS National Workforce Plan: 2021–2025
- Background paper
- Frequently asked questions fact sheet.
The Australian Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety commits to multiple improvements to aged care quality and safety.
Further improvements across the sectors will be informed by the:
- Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
- Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
Related regulatory projects
The alignment work is running in parallel to a program of significant regulatory reforms and reviews in the care and support sector. Agencies are working closely together on various projects, including:
- Aged Care Quality Standards Review
- A review of the aged care quality standards is under way.
- Initial consultation on this project was held in August 2021.
- Further consultation is planned. Visit the Engagement Hub for updates.
- Design of a new Aged Care Act
- The Australian Government is developing a new Aged Care Act to underpin fundamental and generational reform across aged care.
- Behaviour support and restrictive practices
- Reforms to strengthen regulation of restraint (restrictive practices) and enhance behaviour support capability in residential aged care, including through legislation introduced in September 2021 and the appointment of a Senior Practitioner to the ACQSC to lead education of providers and provide an independent review mechanism.
- Serious Incident Resonse Scheme
- Expansion of the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) from residential care into home and community care. SIRS sets new arrangements for providers to manage, prevent and report serious incidents, with a focus on the safety, health and wellbeing of aged care consumers.
- Quality indicators and star ratings
- A simple ‘at-a-glance’ Star Rating on My Aged Care for residential aged care services, the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program to report crucial measures of care in the home, and additional quality indicators across critical care areas in residential care.
- For information on upcoming consultations, please visit the Engagement Hub.
- Redesign of in-home and community care for older people requiring care
- New support at home program to be designed and implemented to support senior Australians to stay in their homes and keep connected to their communities.
- Reviews of frameworks, including the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework, aged care regulatory framework and strategy, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission framework, and veterans’ care programs.
NDIS reforms and reviews
There are a number of reviews that will inform future reform of the NDIS. These include:
- NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework Review
- The NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework Review will identify any changes and adjustments to the Framework to address quality and safeguarding gaps, and identify longer term reforms to the Framework to ensure it is fit-for-purpose in current market and NDIS policy conditions. This will inform future regulatory reforms that may be required and inform the care and support regulatory alignment measure.
- Robertson Review
- This review was commissioned by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission into the NDIS Commission oversight and the death of Ann-Marie Smith. Most of the recommendations have been addressed and further consideration of the recommendations is being undertaken that will inform potential future reforms.
- Joint Standing Committee into the NDIS
- The Committee has undertaken a number of inquiries since its establishment in 2019 in relation to the implementation and performance of the NDIS as well as individual cases. The Government has responded to a number of final reports from the Committee that outline activity and action undertaken, being undertaken or will be undertaken to respond to these inquiries.
- Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
- The Royal Commission was established in April 2019 and will deliver its final report to the Government by 29 September 2023. Recommendations from the Royal Commission will be considered by Government following receipt of the final report.
Veterans’ care reforms and reviews
DVA is participating in the broader reforms across government for the care and support sector relating to veteran services, as well as the following:
- Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide
- The Royal Commission was established in July 2021 and is required to produce an interim report by 11 August 2022 and a final report by 15 June 2023.
- Review of veterans’ care and support
- DVA is undertaking a comprehensive review of Veterans’ Home Care, community nursing and related programs to consider options to address existing price regulations, harmonise program structures, and consider the implications of broader reforms proposed across the care and support sector; in particular, reforms to aged care in-home support programs.
Regulatory Alignment contact
Contact us for information about the work to align regulation across the care and support sectors or the governing Senior Officer Group.