Following the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (Royal Commission), we are making changes to the aged care system in Australia.
Supporting legislation is needed to implement more than 50 of the 148 recommendations of the Royal Commission. The Government is:
- amending existing aged care legislation to allow an early response to some of the recommendations.
- developing a completely new legislative framework to support the broader reforms to the aged care system.
Aged care legislative changes
Legislative reforms now in place
On 1 July 2021, the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 1) Act 2021 came into effect. It amended legislation to:
- place stronger controls over the use of restrictive practices, such as chemical and physical restraints, to ensure they are a last resort.
- conduct assurance reviews to make sure home care providers are using funding to deliver services to older Australians.
- abolish the need for the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) and create a new advisory body for aged care financing.
For further information, read the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No.1) Act 2021 and its explanatory memorandum.
On 27 July 2022, the Government introduced two pieces of aged care legislation to Parliament. This legislation includes provisions for 12 priority aged care reforms.
The first piece, the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Act 2022, passed the Parliament on 2 August 2022 and received Royal Assent on 5 August 2022. It responds to 17 recommendations of the Royal Commission and includes provisions for:
- Introducing the new Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding model for residential aged care.
- The Department of Health and Aged Care to publish Star Ratings to help older Australians compare residential aged care services and decide which service best fits their needs.
- An enforceable Code of Conduct for Aged Care applying to approved providers and their governing persons and workforce. It also provides powers for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner to take enforcement action for substantiated breaches.
- Extending the Serious Incident Response Scheme to home care and flexible care delivered in a home or community setting. It includes incident management and prevention responsibilities.
- Strengthening provider governance, including placing new reporting requirements on providers and requiring clinical expertise on their governing bodies. The new reporting responsibilities for approved providers will help older Australians and their families to better understand how providers operate.
- Improving information sharing between regulators across the aged care, veterans’ care and disability support sectors.
- Providing increased financial and prudential oversight of the use of residential accommodation deposits and bonds.
- Expanding the functions of the renamed Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority to include pricing advice to Government on aged and general health care.
- Revising the restrictive practices arrangements to address gaps in state and territory guardianship and consent laws.
For further information, read the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Act 2022 and its explanatory memorandum.
The second piece of legislation, the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Act 2022 (Implementing Care Reform Act), passed the Parliament on 27 October 2022 and received Royal Assent on 9 November 2022. It contains three measures responding to two Royal Commission recommendations and implements the Government’s election commitments to:
- Improve integrity and accountability for residential aged care homes.
- Ban exit fees and enable the capping of administrative and management charges in the Home Care Packages Program. These changes will give older Australians more informed choice and control to get the best value for money in their package. This measure will ensure government funding is being spent to meet their direct care needs.
- Have a registered nurse onsite and on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in every residential aged care home from 1 July 2023.
The Implementing Care Reform Act also introduces mandatory reporting requirements that will require the Department of Health and Aged Care to publish certain provider information from 1 July 2023. This will create greater transparency for residential aged care residents, their families and carers on how providers spend their funds. The published information includes details on provider operations such as expenditure on care, nursing, food, maintenance, cleaning, administration and profits. It will be informed in part by existing reports including the Aged Care Financial Report. The department will publish the information in a clear and easy to understand format for residents and their families.
For further information, read the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Act 2022 and its explanatory memorandum.
A new aged care Act
Work has begun on developing a new overarching aged care Act, to place older Australians at the heart of the aged care system and provide the framework for fundamental change.
The new Act will replace existing legislation, including the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018.
What will the new Act cover?
The new Act will:
- Outline the rights of older Australians who are seeking and accessing aged care services.
- Create a single system entry point, with clear eligibility requirements.
- Incorporate a fair, culturally safe single assessment framework.
- Support the delivery of a range of aged care services, including new in-home care services.
- Put in place new system oversight and accountability arrangements.
- Introduce a new approach to regulating aged care to increase provider accountability and encourage delivery of high quality and safe aged care services. The new approach will also strengthen enforcement powers of the aged care regulator.
We will be seeking input and feedback from older Australians, their families and carers, and the sector as we develop the new Act. We will also be consulting with the Council of Elders and the National Aged Care Advisory Council.
Visit the Aged Care Engagement Hub to find out how you can become involved.