Digital Transformation Tech Talk webinar recording – 27 February 2024

This is the webinar recording of the first Digital Transformation Tech Talk webinar of 2024. During the webinar, we looked at latest updates on digital transformation for the aged care sector.



Department of Health and Aged Care

Tech Talk – Digital Transformation for the Aged Care Sector

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Presented by:


Janine Bennett – Assistant Secretary, Digital Transformation & Delivery Division 


Fay Flevaras – First Assistant Secretary, Digital Transformation & Delivery Division

Emma Cook – Assistant Secretary, Digital Reform Branch, Reform Implementation Division

Jo Hammersley – Director, Aged Care Quality and Transformation Branch, Digital Transformation and Delivery Division

Jess Herbert – Director, Aged Care Funding Reform and Systems Branch, Digital Transformation and Delivery Division

Marina Muttukumaru – Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Services and Sustainability Branch, Digital Transformation and Delivery Division

Mel Metz – Assistant Secretary, Legislative Reform Branch, Quality and Assurance Division, Ageing and Aged Care Group

[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Tech Talk’, ‘Digital Transformation for the Aged Care sector’, ‘Webinar series’, ‘Digital Transformation and Delivery Division’, ‘Corporate Operations Group’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘’, ‘Tech Talk #14’, ‘27 February 2024’]

[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]

Janine Bennett:

Hello and welcome to Tech Talk. My name is Janine Bennett from the Department of Health and Aged Care. On behalf of our Digital Transformation Program I’m delighted to welcome you to today’s webinar, the 14th in our series and our first event for 2024.

I’m joining you today from the lands of the Gadigal people so I’d like to recognise the traditional custodians of the land that I’m on today and to offer my recognition to the people and families with connections to those lands around Sydney and its regions. I want to also reflect on our collective respect for our First Nations people, their Elders and their continuing culture and ongoing contribution to our country, and to acknowledge any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have joined us today. It’s lovely to have you with us.

Before I hand things over and we get things started for the day some quick housekeeping items. If you strike any technical issues during today’s event there is a dial in option as a backup that you can use to rejoin. You’ll find the phone number and the code for the meeting in your invite, your calendar invite. So just go ahead and use that if you need to. As always a bit of warning. We’re recording today’s webinar. We will post the recording of the event so you can refer back to it or share it with other interested folks in your network. It is a handy way to cascade information so I hope you’ll find that useful. You can expect it to be available on our website within the next couple of weeks along with copies of our decks. And we will let all of our attendees know via email once that’s live.

As always we’ve kept a nice block of time set aside at the end of our Tech Talk for Q&A. So we encourage you to pop your questions into Slido. It’s at the bottom right hand side of your Webex screen. And you can log your questions at any time during the event today. We’ll put as many questions to our panel as we can at the end of today’s session. If you’re happy to ask your question live on camera we’d love you to join us up on our virtual stage. For newcomers that just means we’ll ask you to turn on your video and audio and we’ll bring you up here to our main screen so you can ask your question directly to the panel. To do that all you need to do is include your name when you submit your question. For those that do so I’ll give you a bit of early warning so you’ll know a little bit beforehand when we’re going to bring you up. If you are feeling a bit shy today but you still have a burning question that’s totally fine. Just post your question anonymously in Slido or you can write ‘No stage’ when you submit it. If I see that I’ll go ahead and put the question to the panel on your behalf.

Okay. So I think that goes to all of our housekeeping items. On with today’s show. I’m pleased to introduce you to our host Fay Flevaras. Fay leads the Digital Transformation and Delivery Division here at the Department of Health and Aged Care. She is a skilled technologist and a committed public servant having held leadership positions across banking, consulting and more recently Government. Over the course of her career Fay has taken on many large scale transformation programs delivering first of a kind digital capabilities and she is responsible for heading up that same kind of effort in the Digital Transformation for Aged Care on behalf of our Department. So with no further ado I’ll hand over to Fay. Fay welcome. Over to you. 

Fay Flevaras:

Thank you Janine and hello everybody. Welcome back to our Tech Talk series. It’s great to see you all again. A belated happy new year to everyone. This is our first Tech Talk back for the new year and hopefully you’re getting into the swing of 2024 now. I know that it’s all systems go over here in the Department and I’m sure you might be feeling the same. I think 2024 is going to be a big one.

So let’s take a look at today’s agenda. It’s our first outing for the year so I’ll start with some reflections on last year and some insights around what’s coming for the direction for 2024. Then we’ll return to our regular scheduled kind of programming which will be my transformation update, we’ll take you through our IT portfolio roadmap, some of the key highlights – and key staff will join me to work us through those highlights from our current February release that just went live. Next we’ll have our long term friend that’s been with us before. Mel Metz will be with us again to talk all things new Aged Care Act and provide us an update since we last spoke to you which was about November last year if I’m not mistaken. We’ll also use the break to pull together – we did use the break to pull together some of the popular questions that we received in 2023 that we hadn’t really got around to answering. And so we’ll be covering a few of those today. 

And then as per usual we’ll have our Q&A at the end of the session. Janine’s going to take us through that and as she mentioned we encourage you to post any of your questions or any comments you have on the Slido throughout the session and as we go. Your insights help us build better solutions for the sector so keep them coming in. We really love hearing from you.

Before I get started I’ll quickly remind the group on behalf of our ADHA, our Australian Digital Health Agency colleagues, to register for My Health Record. They’ve definitely put the word out. So we’re just helping them along there. We’re looking forward to getting an update from them at the next Tech Talk but for today we have Laura Toyne on standby for us in the audience in case we get any questions that we can’t answer that come up around the My Health Record. She’ll be available to help us out for Q&A. So thanks Laura for being here with us.

Okay. So let’s get started. I’ll start by sharing a little bit of context about the work that might be helpful for anybody new with us for the first time or to refresh our memories. There’s been a lot going on so it’s always nice to have a bit of a recap. Briefly we are in the business of digital transformation. We build technical solutions that enable the aged care reform. So aged care reform began back in 2022 and it will continue as far as I can see until about 2025. So right now we’re roughly about the halfway point of the reform and so far we have developed digital solutions to support and enable a range of reform measures.

This is a bit of a look of the last 12 months. And on the delivery side we completed over 70 project outcomes across eight major releases in 2023 bringing enhanced features and new tools to the digital aged care ecosystem. This isn’t a list of all the things we did. Just maybe some of the highlights. And as you can see if anyone was with us in 2022 we definitely ramped it up a little bit in 2023. We had a lot more frequency in our releases and a lot more was going in them as well. We had the introduction of our new Business to Government gateway product and platform that went out and we also consolidated some of our other systems onto GPMS which is our Government Provider Management System for our providers to interact with us. And there was quite a few measures that we put on it, so new features in that sense.

If I can get the next slide. As you know we put engagement at the centre of everything we do and this is a bit of a snapshot of what we did in 2023. We worked really hard to make sure we’re working in partnership with you in the sector and we achieved a lot. We held seven different Tech Talks that kept you guys informed and updated in all the work that we were doing which include sharing the portfolio and the roadmap of work that we’re doing. We have our sector partner group which is a subgroup that we held 17 formal meetings with them. Our sector partner community grew 130% going from 66 members to 152 members who kind of sprint with us once a fortnight and volunteer their time to help design some of the initiatives that we’ve been talking about and rolling out.

And we also did over 22 presentations with a guest speaker both nationally and international audiences where we go and we talk about what we’re doing in aged care, how we’re doing it and how we’re tracking.

So the following slide also gives you a bit of a snapshot around what are the real world outcomes that we delivered for people. All this activity underpins the changes we are making to the way the aged care system operates in the real world. We introduced as you can see the AN-ACC new funding model and we bedded that one down. We launched our new Government Provider Management System and consolidated one of our legacy systems called NAPS. We did a full NAPS migration into our GPMS system. We introduced new capabilities such as your Star Ratings, Quality Indicators, the 24/7 nurses in aged care reforms. There was quite a lot there. And as I mentioned before we released the Business to Government gateway Developer Portal to our ICT software community out there with a view to frontrunning some of the public APIs that we plan to build this year.

By all measures if we look at the last sort of two and a half years – and you can see what we did in the last 12 months – a phenomenal amount of work has been delivered to date. But we’re not finished yet folks. So if we move onto the next thing and talk about let’s look forward on what we’re going to do in 2024. We like to provide a portfolio timeline and talk you through what the February release looked like.

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Transformation and release update’, ‘Fay Flevaras’, ‘First Assistant Secretary’, ‘Digital Transformation and Delivery Division’, ‘Corporate Operations Group’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’]

So I think as you can see – and we’re trying to keep improving the way we provide these slides to you so the information is much clearer – we had the aged care IT portfolio roadmap and in February we went live with a new release. I share this with you guys with the usual disclaimer that this is our technical delivery roadmap and it’s not a commitment from Government. We’ve given a bit of polish as you can see on how we’re depicting it so we hope you like the new look. Let us know what you think. If it’s still not clear enough let us know because then we can keep improving.

You will notice that our timeline which usually projects at least six months in advance isn’t showing our usual forecast to date. We are in a kind of tricky place at the moment. We’re awaiting policy decisions. And so right now while we’re awaiting those big announcements and pending some of the confirmation on our priorities we’re holding back the forward calendar. So for now I can share with you that we have a forward plan that we are proposing and working to and once the relevant Government decisions are made we will give you a solid view of our commitment in the new year. Hopefully by next Tech Talk but let’s see how we go. So keep please tuning into our webinars. This is where you’ll be given the most up to date information as soon as we’re available to give it to you.

For now the takeaways from this slide. We’re on the right side of the first big release for the year. We’ve made some changes to the Government Provider Management System, the Business to Government gateway portal and the My Aged Care platform as well. We have a couple of items shown here in grey that we in the end for various reasons did not deliver in the February release and thus as we always say being transparent those two have shifted to the right and they will be depicted in the forward schedule when we get it to you the next time we speak. But other than that everything we had planned has gone out as planned and we are now in a warranty period as we smooth out any edges that need to be looked at.

Our business and our tech leads are here to take us through the release details in a moment in more detail so I’m not giving any of that away. I’ll hand over to them. But first we thought it might be nice for you guys to get a quick video overview of what was included. So let’s take a look together.


[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Digital Transformation for Aged Care’, ‘2024 February Release’, ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’]

§(Music Playing)§


At the Department of Health and Aged Care we are delivering real world digital solutions to enable aged care reform. We are focused on using better technology and human-centred processes to improve the lived experience of older Australians navigating the aged care system. 2024 has started with a bang with our February release continuing to deliver digital capabilities that are better connected, human-centred and modern.

The Government Provider Management System or GPMS makes it easier for providers to access and report information to Government. In the future it will be a master source of information across the aged care system. This release we have made further enhancements for the auditing of care minutes, Quarterly Financial Reporting and Star Ratings calculations. We’ve introduced new functionality for a Stakeholder and Emergency Management System or SEMS that will strengthen regional stewardship across the state and territory network and introduce new functionality to support provider finance and operations reporting measures. 

This release we have continued to mature the foundational platforms that support GPMS and health systems, solutions like the Business to Government or B2G portal. The B2G portal will increase the ease and efficiency for aged care providers to exchange information with the Government Provider Management System allowing more time to be spent on the direct delivery of care to older Australians. We have preparatory work on the first four APIs that will soon go live into the B2G Developer Portal including authentication and registration, provider management, Quality Indicators and registered 24/7 Nursing.

Software vendors can now do some initial testing of their software against the Department’s specifications before applying for software conformance. We’ve also continued to support and add new functionality to My Aged Care, the starting point for accessing Australian Government funded aged care services. It includes work that will better support AN-ACC assessors, residential service providers and Departmental staff by improving referral management and the reissuing of referrals.

For residential care clients we have improved the processing of residential care notifications from Services Australia to display of respite care recipients. We have also completed the first phase of the assign permanent residential aged care places to people initiative which will provide residential aged care places directly to older Australians instead of providers, noting this first phase is currently in an offline state but sets the system up for future capability release. In palliative care we’ve also updated some system rules for palliative entry helping to better manage the palliative care classification process. 

At the Department of Health and Aged Care we’re continuing to deliver real world solutions to enable aged care reform, understanding that our work directly supports older Australians and those working hard to support them to live their best lives for their whole lives. Thank you for being a part of our digital transformation journey. We look forward to keeping this conversation going in 2024 and beyond.


Fay Flevaras:

And there you have it folks. A bit of a snapshot on our release overview. I think it looks wonderful. I want to personally thank everyone in the community who contributed to any of the codesign sessions or any of the workshops. Providing your valuable feedback has definitely helped us to inform the way we’ve built these. 

Now without further ado we have Emma Cook as our executive business sponsor from our policy area. And along with Emma we have Marina, Jess and Jo from my division. Ladies thank you. We’re looking forward to some additional insights into the video we just saw. Over to you guys. 

Emma Cook:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘Government Provider Management System’, ‘Presented by:’, ‘Emma Cook – Assistant Secretary, Digital Reform Branch’, ‘Reform Implementation Division’, ‘Jo Hammersley – Director, Aged Care Transformation and Quality Branch’, ‘Digital Transformation and Delivery Division’]

Thanks very much Fay and thanks again to everyone for joining us today. So starting off with I guess GPMS and a little bit of a recap for any of those of you who are new to our Tech Talks in 2024. The GPMS or the Government Provider Management System as you’ll see on the next slide is really providing a flexible platform that enables aged care reform and the delivery of streamlined information exchange between provider and Government systems.

It's hard to believe as Fay’s touched on with so much that’s been achieved the GPMS is not yet one year old and continues to enhance iteratively to take on new and existing provider reporting functionality to provide a single, streamlined access point for care providers which we’re working towards over time, and that it’s continuing to support automation and interoperability including through its partner system that we’ll touch on and that has been spoken about today B2G.

These are really important objectives and critical in enabling more time to be spent on delivering high quality care and providing good quality data and evidence that can be used to uplift the quality of care that’s provided to older Australians.

So as I said and you’ll see on the timeline on the next slide it’s been a busy 12 months. So launching last April we’ve replaced those core legacy IT systems, enhanced the system quarterly, the GPMS system quarterly, to implement important Government reforms and initiatives including the Star Ratings, quality indicators, provider operations, financial reporting, Dollars going to Care and many more. And this will continue throughout the coming months and years as Fay has touched on as we seek to create that one single portal for all aged care provider interactions with Government and we seek to introduce those new reforms and in the upcoming releases additional I guess conveniences like the self-service portal functionality for aged care providers that really starts to move away from using different websites and different paper-based forms and puts it in that one single streamlined location.

So that’s probably enough from me and with that to talk about the tranche release of technology including our most recent IT release in February I’ll hand over to my delivery partner Jo. 

Jo Hammersley:

Thanks Emma. Wow. What a journey it’s been. I’m now going to talk to you all about release 7, our latest release. This represents another milestone in our digital transformation journey to modernise the delivery of aged care. Release 7 delivered upgrades of enhancements to the GPMS foundations, new capabilities and enhancements to existing capabilities. 

Some interesting details about our latest release. The planning for this release began back in May and September of ’23 and it represents a huge divisional and cross Departmental release effort. The release commenced on Friday 16th of February and went live on Monday the 19th of February. There were three dedicated days of release runway with staff working across the release weekend, and these staff were from multiple areas across the Department, our colleagues in business, our teams in the Digital Transformation and Delivery Division, our colleagues in the Information Technology Division, our service integrators and various support services such as Datacom and Healthdirect Australia and more.

The release scope was integrated between three agencies, these being Services Australia, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and us at the Department of Health and Aged Care. Next slide please.

So let’s now discuss the scope of this release. Specifically the release delivered further enhancements to the GPMS foundation and support of the ongoing aged care transformation agenda. It introduced new capabilities such as the stakeholder and emergency management system to strengthen regional stewardship across the states and territory networks and another new capability to progress the Developer Portal in preparation for the four APIs, authentication and registration, provider management, quality indicators and nurses 24/7. This is to allow for initial testing. Marina and Emma will talk further to you about this shortly.

The release also delivered enhancements to support existing capabilities such as Quarterly Financial Reporting, the dollars going to care measure, approved provider operations reporting, the annual statement, residential aged care funding reform care minutes and Star Ratings calculations. It’s also delivered technical upgrades that include enhancements to the platforms that support GPMS and health systems. Thanks Emma. Back to you.

Emma Cook:

Thanks so much Jo for all that great release detail and technical detail. Now moving across to the partner program, Business to Government, and I have my colleague Marina here. So Business to Government is – and again I’ll give a little bit of context and a bit of a recap for those of you who are newer to the Tech Talks this year. So Business to Government or B2G as we call it is a crucial innovation that’s really intended to streamline the exchange of data between provider and Government systems and provides an opportunity to improve data quality and utility to support an uplift in care. It also enables and really importantly enables aged care staff to spend more time delivering that directive of high quality care to older Australians as I said earlier.

In tangible terms what this really looks like over time and as a future state is that aged care workers maintain routine care records and this information is automatically collated and can be more seamlessly reported when required to Government. However to make this happen we need to work really closely with that all important sector partners and software vendor and Tech Talk community to develop out our Developer Portal and ensure that software systems meet the necessary specifications required prior to aged care providers using these systems or them being available for aged care providers to use. So that is the work that is currently underway and really focuses quite heavily on that software vendor community.

So jumping through to the next slide you will see again B2G has been quite a rapid journey. And over the past six months we’ve worked really quickly but really closely with that software vendor community to launch the Developer Portal that allows software developers to discover, register and connect with the Department of Health systems and B2G. We’ve enhanced that Developer Portal to include a lot more detail about the first APIs to be released, so those other quality indicator and 24/7 reporting APIs, and then more recently we’ve released those test APIs to support software vendors building their software to support the reporting as well as going through conformance steps in a simplified conformance process to be approved to build and make available that software.

By mid-year we’re then looking forward and looking to the release of those production APIs. So once the software vendors and the Department have worked in the background to do all of these steps what that means is for conformance software aged care providers would then be able to use that to report, more seamlessly report their 24/7 Nursing and Quality Indicators.

So that is a quick snapshot of B2G, where we’ve been, where we’re going and what you can expect next. So again I’ll hand over to my technology delivery partner Marina to walk through the details of our recent release and the technology that underpins this. Thanks Marina.

Marina Muttukumaru:

Lovely. Thank you so much Emma. And I agree it’s great to see how much progress has been made to date. If we could just go onto the next slide please. Now this slide shows our progress but through the lens of the software vendor developer journey for B2G APIs.

So first you’ll notice that the three releases that Emma has just discussed are represented here as callouts at each stage of the journey. You’ll also notice that there’s a range of colours on the path and each of these colours represents the different actors that are involved in the journey.

So prior to the first release of the Developer Portal we spent a lot of time last year establishing the platform foundations for the API gateway and that’s the part on the left hand side in green. Since then we have been working really hard to deliver progressive releases that enable the B2G development lifecycle. The software vendor journey begins at the discovery phase. With the release of the Developer Portal last year our software vendors were able to view API specifications and register for access to the APIs as they became available.

With the SVT release software developers were then able to access the environment in order to develop and test their software against our APIs. The SVT release also included information and frameworks to allow our software vendors to begin preparing for the conformance process. Over January and February of this year the team have successfully deployed a number of components to the Developer Portal to support software vendors to complete the conformance assessment process with our colleagues at ADHA. The SVT release packages included the release of the following APIs into the SVT environment. We have the authentication API, the provider management API, Quality Indicators API and Nurses 24/7.

Software vendors are now able to undertake development and technical verification testing against these APIs within the software vendor test environment. This is a key step that’s required as part of the conformance assessment process. We also as part of release 7 delivered a number of features into the production environment via the B2G Developer Portal. These included updates to our API catalogue, the API testing process, conformance assessment process, a conformance production register, API access management uplift and uplifts to the My Profile system maintenance and organisation management parts of the portal.

Our journey will continue on this year with our full production release expected towards the middle of the year. This next release will expand the capabilities and functions of B2G to fully support software vendors who’ve completed their conformance assessment successfully to deploy their software to aged care providers. At this point in the journey aged care providers will be able to access the functions that consume the APIs and submit their data to the Department when required for Quality Indicators and Nurses 24/7 reporting measures. As with so many facets of our work we couldn’t deliver this outcome without the support and contribution of our many partners and stakeholders, in particular Laura and our colleagues at the ADHA and our vendor partner community. We really look forward to continuing our work with you all as we continue to develop, mature and scale the B2G API gateway.

Fay Flevaras:

Thanks Marina. I think we’re heading over to Jess now.

Jess Herbert:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘My Aged Care – Release 29’, ‘Presented by:’, ‘Jess Herbert – Director, Aged Care Funding Reform and Systems Branch’, ‘Digital Transformation and Delivery Division’]

Thanks Fay and good afternoon everybody. While I’m here to talk to you about Release 29 for My Aged Care I just wanted to set the scene with a quick snippet first into what My Aged Care is all about for those who may be new to it or to the Tech Talk today or maybe for some of you who want to reminisce on nine long years of MAC history.

So the My Aged Care system or MAC as we affectionately call it allows older Australians, their families and carers to access information on ageing and aged care, have their needs assessed and be supported to locate and access the services available to them. We have a number of users in that case that MAC supports from assessors to clients, service providers and Contact Centre staff, and our systems are currently servicing up to 450,000 users across those user groups.

For those of you who are interested in the underlying technology we are predominantly Oracle. So we have an underlying Oracle client relationship management system. We have .NET applications as our key front end technology for all of our external users, and Oracle Fusion Middleware sitting between our Oracle and our .NET portals. And we’ve just recently transitioned to a Microsoft based MAUI product for all of our mobile applications.

So we are nine years in the making. We are celebrating our nine year anniversary for MAC next month on the 28th of March. Since 2015 we’ve actually had 29 releases with three releases per year, both a mix of foundational capabilities to get ourselves established, technical upgrades and the delivery of key Government reforms.

So just a little bit of history. There’s a lot here to delve into into MAC but we do have some highlights here to share with you today. So MAC was initially started by the Department of Social Services in March 2015. It went live as a pilot in Victoria and three months later the Service Provider Portal was launched nationally. Just six months after the pilot was launched Carers Gateway and Quality Indicators – might sound a bit familiar to you – and the Aged Care Assessment Team including the mobile app changes went live.

So after then there was a year of quarterly releases for enhancements to MAC at which point then there were changes for increasing choice in home care reform changes which actually allowed senior Australians to choose which provider their home care packages went to.

A few years after that we actually saw a transition of the MAC system from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Health where we are now and that actually resulted in two releases in Release 15 so maybe we should be celebrating 30 releases. And one of the key things that we have recently implemented and continue to implement and work on is the Residential Aged Care Funding Reform Program. This one went live in October 2022 and saw sweeping funding reforms for the distribution of funding to each residential aged care facility for the care they provide to each client. The delivery of this program is a combined effort with Liquid, Healthlink, Services Australia and the Quality and Safety Commission amongst others.

In amongst there we’ve had a number of other releases since, technical enhancements, a lot of releases for our RACFR Program as I just mentioned, and the younger people in residential aged care just last October. So I think Fay went into that earlier in the presentation. Which brings us to the present. As you would have heard from Jo’s presentation just before, last weekend we had our 29th maybe 30th release in line with release 7. The changes that we made were across eight projects to further deliver on our budget commitments and four upgrades. 

So in this release we saw enhancements to the RACFR Program such as changes to referral management, assessment and care minute target calculations. That probably sounds familiar but the implementation of RACFR is actually a combined effort for Salesforce and MAC. Places to People is one of those foundational capabilities for queuing systems and storing classification information, for clients to have greater choice about preferred residential care providers. This was the first release of many. And there’s some foundational work to support the future implementation of the new Aged Care Act.

Home care reform changes have also been implemented. So home care reform is focusing on keeping people living independently for longer in their own homes. And the changes that we saw in this release included the ability for assessment organisation to transfer clients’ assessment data between organisations and this was again similar to Places to People, a foundational release to support the implementation of the Support at Home Program over the next 12 to 18 months.

And finally we had a number of enhancements and upgrades across our technology both for our mobile applications and our .NET applications to continue to ensure the stability, security and reliability of our MAC system. 

So before I wrap up with the MAC update just wanted to share a big thank you to our delivery partners including Liquid Interactive and Gaia, Services Australia, Healthdirect Australia and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission for a successful release. Thanks and back over to you Fay.

Fay Flevaras:

Thanks Jess and thanks to everyone who’s spoken so far. It really gives us a good insight on how much has been done and all of our releases to date. I’m looking forward to the next round that’s going to come up. Without further ado in our Tech Talks we do like to create a one Government view of everything we’re doing and that’s why we have our partners, but we also like to ensure that we bring in the business lens or in this case our policy lens. And so I’d like to welcome back Mel Metz to give us an update on the new Aged Care Act or as we sometimes call it NACA internally because it’s a nice short acronym. Mel presented to our Sector Partner group a couple of weeks back and there was a lot of interest there. And she’s coming back to give us an update from last year and I think the consultation phase. Over to you Mel. 

Mel Metz:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘New Aged Care Act’, ‘Mel Metz’, ‘Assistant Secretary’, ‘Legislative Reform Branch, Quality and Assurance Division’, ‘Ageing and Aged Care Group’]

Thanks very much Fay. And I think the interest was because I’d mentioned the words AI or the acronym AI. Everyone got very excited about that. I will cover that off today as well. So I think for those of you have joined a Tech Talk before or joined one of the webinars you might know me. My name’s Mel Metz and I’m the Assistant Secretary of the Legislative Reform Branch at the Department and my main responsibility now is developing the new Aged Care Act.

And I wanted to talk to you today about how we’ve been engaging so far. So I think many people know that the first Royal Commission recommendation was that we should have a new Aged Care Act because the 1997 Act is no longer fit for purpose. So we’re building a new Aged Care Act to respond to issues facing older people and providers and workers in the broader sector. Most importantly it’s going to put the rights and needs of older people at the centre of the aged care system. So it’s going to outline the rights of older people who are seeking and accessing aged care services. There will be a single entry point with very clear eligibility requirements, a fair and culturally safe single assessment framework. It will support the delivery of aged care services, establish some new system oversight and accountability arrangements, increase provider accountability through a new regulatory model which has a lot of different elements and also strengthen the aged care regulator, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

So the Exposure Draft of the Bill for the new Act was published on the 14th of December along with a pretty comprehensive Consultation Paper, a plain English version of that Consultation Paper and both of those things explain the draft Bill.

So consultation is now well underway and we’ve been receiving pretty strong feedback from people requesting more time to consider the Exposure Draft and make submissions. And because we received so many requests for additional time the Government decided to extend that consultation period up until the 8th of March. It was originally going to end on the 16th of February. And so that will bring the total consultation time to 12 weeks.

And alongside the public submission process and a survey which we’ve got online we’ve done lots of other consultation activities as well. So we’ve had two webinars so far which had over 8,700 people attend and we have plans for another webinar tomorrow which will be a Q&A style webinar with a couple of my colleagues. And we’ve also had 35 face to face workshops in capital cities and regional centres around the country as well as virtual workshops. And we have another four face to face and three virtual workshops planned in the coming weeks given that the consultation period has been extended. I think during consultation word about the workshops and things spread around and we tended to get more registrations as time went on. So it’s an opportunity now for us actually to go back to a couple of those cities, Darwin and Brisbane particularly, which were our first cabs off the rank where we didn’t get quite the numbers at those workshops that we wanted.

So we’ll move onto consultation feedback and a few of the things that we’ve heard. So we’re well into the consultation process now. We’re still gathering information particularly through that submissions process. But I thought today what I’d talk you through is some of the initial feedback that we’ve received because it kind of does demonstrate some emerging themes. It won’t surprise anyone that timeframes for implementation was a critical issue for many people. There were disparate views on that though. So on the one hand we got feedback particularly from older people and advocates that the legislation has to be finalised and implemented as quickly as possible. Having said that people are also very, very keen to have more time for consultation and to see more detail of the Bill and the rules. On the other hand the feedback from the sector was very much that they need more time to prepare for the changes before they take effect. So we’ll be taking that feedback to Government for them to make a decision on where to from here on timeframes for implementation.

Rights and principles, that’s a really key part of the legislation. As expected lots of people have views about them. I think broadly that rights-based approach is very universally supported by older people and advocates and carers and providers. There is however some concern that the rights aren’t individually enforceable and I will just note that that is consistent with what the Royal Commission recommended around the rights. There’s also concern that some of the rights don’t go far enough or that they go too far. We’ve had some suggestions that we should be including a positive duty to uphold rights on providers. We’ve also had some commentary that has questioned the impact that rights might have on provider viability and also questions about whether we should be including responsibilities as well as rights or outlining the rights of others in the system such as workers. So we have to work through all of that feedback.

We’ve defined ‘High Quality Care’ in the legislation which is really to give everyone a shared understanding of what excellent care looks like. There is still a bit of confusion about that definition. So some people are wanting high quality care to be something that is achievable and measurable but it’s not intended to be a minimum standard that people can easily understand. It’s intended to be something that everyone in the system is aspiring to over time.

We’ve also had quite a lot of feedback on proposed duties. So there’s a proposed duty on providers, on responsible persons and on platform providers. The concern has really been around that duty on responsible persons and the impact that that might have on recruiting suitably skilled board members particularly volunteer board members and for smaller providers and those in rural and remote areas, and there’s concern that the duty might cause existing board members to exit the sector. So we need to have a close look at that feedback. There were Royal Commission recommendations around a duty. We’ve departed from what the Royal Commission said. The Royal Commission wanted civil penalties. We’ve gone with criminal penalties which have a higher burden of proof and we tried very hard to be careful in the way that we’ve drafted those duties. But there might be some merit in looking to other schemes like work health and safety to see where we might be able to carve out particular groups of people so as not to have unintended consequences from the introduction of those duties.

Also the Complaints Commissioner is something else that we’ve been hearing about. There is a Complaints Commissioner within the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission now but it isn’t a statutory position. We proposed an SES officer within the Commission who would report to the Commissioner but we have heard quite a lot of feedback around the need for that role of the Complaints Commissioner to be somewhat independent from the Commissioner. For those of you who’ve been around the sector for a long time you will know that the complaints function has been in and out of the regulator over many years. We do think it’s very important for the Complaints Commissioner and the regulatory function to co-exist within one organisation for the benefit of regulation and information sharing. But we will look to how we might be able to make that role more independent.

There’s also been lots of feedback around the new proposals we have for supporters and representatives or nominees. A bit of confusion around how those provisions will operate in practice, how we will implement them and how they’re going to interact with existing state and territory arrangements. So I think we have definitely got some tinkering to do with the provisions that are there and some work to do in the implementation side of things. Broadly there’s support for supported decision making and the supporters and representatives framework actually provides the hook to embed supported decision making within the Act. So we’ve got some work to do to clarify those arrangements.

Whistleblower protections as well. Very broad support for that but some concern around some of the wording that we’re using. So we originally had a good faith requirement for whistleblowers. We changed that based on feedback that we got last year to be a reasonable suspicion that the Act had been breached. I think there’s still concern that there might be people who abuse those whistleblower arrangements and make vexatious complaints. So we’ll need to find the appropriate level at which to set those protections. And we’ve also received feedback around the timeframes for reviews and for decisions as Government. So we do have timeframes in the legislation around what providers need to do and what participants in the system need to do but no timeframes for Government. So that’s something that’s been raised with us and we’ll consider.

And then last of all the AI issue is actually a very interesting one. It’s a provision right down the back of the legislation in miscellaneous provisions and it’s there to effectively enable the use of computers in Government decision making. We’ve been very transparent about that and very specific that computers can only be used for the purpose of classification decisions, namely AN-ACC classifications which they’re currently used for, and we currently have legislative authority for it as well. In the future that will be expanded to the support at home classification decisions but what it doesn’t do is enable AI to make assessments of people. But I think that’s what the concern has been. People have seen that provision, not really understood what it’s about and why it’s there. So that is an interesting issue and something that we’re very keen to clarify with people.

So next steps from here. We’re wrapping up the consultation process. We think it’s really important to do that well which is why we extended the timeframe. And then we have to make changes to the draft Bill before it’s introduced into Parliament. We will be publishing a report which sets out the analysis and the findings and recommendations in response to all of the feedback that we received. And that’s all from me today. We’ve got some I think links to the Department’s website and the Bill and Consultation Papers and things so definitely go there and have a look. And submissions are still open until the 8th of March. I think what I’ll say about the submissions is they don’t need to be in any formal format. We’re asking permission from people to publish them. So you can make a submission and not have it published as well. And we are accepting anything from an email with a few lines on someone’s particular issue right through to multiple page responses from people who have a broader interest in the legislation and how it’s technically drafted.

And that’s all from me. Thank you.

Fay Flevaras:

Thanks Mel. And you heard it from Mel. Consultations are still open so you have your opportunity to contribute for a little while longer. And they’re not getting fussy about how you provide that feedback so any way you want to provide a comment, make an emphasis point on something that you think needs to be looked at, absolutely your opportunity is as simple as emailing to that email address that’s on the screen at the moment.

And if you’ve got any questions for Mel just pop them in the Slido. She’ll be hanging around later on in the session for our Q&A and we can come back to them then. Thanks Mel. 

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Q&A popular questions’, ‘Fay Flevaras’, ‘First Assistant Secretary’, ‘Digital Transformation and Delivery Division’, ‘Corporate Operations Group’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’]

Now if you are a regular Tech Talk participant with us you’ll know that we often get more questions than we can answer in the one session. And so we’ve kind of accumulated those and themed them up and we’ve come back with some of the more popular questions that we’ve had. And so that brings us to our next section which is the Q&A of popular questions. We’ve taken a look back and these are the ones that have come up last year mostly that we didn’t get a chance to answer. And we looked up the most upvoted ones as well, because on the Slido you guys get the opportunity to vote them up. So taking that in mind I’ll be taking a few of the questions myself but I do have some friends here to help me out. 

So how about we look at the first set of questions. And I think it looks like the first one is for Janine. Janine over to you for our first question.

Janine Bennett:

Okay. So this is a great question.

Q:        How do Digital Transformation Tech Talks and the Sector Partners group relate to one another?

So we talk a lot in the Tech Talks about our Sector Partners. You will hear that term pretty regularly. It’s probably helpful for us to just take a sec and outline the difference between these two different groups. So basically our sector partners and our Tech Talks are our two key communities that we use to make sure our digital transformation is happening in collaboration with the sector. Our Tech Talks offer a public webinar series. Anyone’s invited. They’re focused on information sharing and transparency. Our sector partner group is a little bit more hands on. So this is a volunteer group made up of representatives from across the sector who want to get involved in the actual co-designing of our digital transformation. It’s a smaller group. It’s a little bit more targeted. It’s largely populated with aged care service providers and ICT vendors. We also have some other folks in there, a few consultants, some other Government agencies, a couple of academics.

Basically what we do is we bring our key messages to the Sector Partner forum so that they can have a close look at the opportunities that are available for us to co-design with the sector. So whether that’s getting an understanding of a pain point that’s being felt in the sector or whether it’s having them look at an interface that’s being designed and tell us what’s right or wrong about it, whether it’s testing a solution, these members have an opportunity to weigh in on our projects and our solutions, to provide their targeted input and to opt in to activities that are of interest to them or their work.

So both of our channels, our Tech Talks and our Sector Partners run in tandem. They both focus on having a two-way conversation. But while the information we cover in each community is similar our sector partners actually sprint with us each fortnight and the outcomes from that work end up in our six weekly Tech Talk updates around the direction we’re taking for digital transformation. So basically our sector partners are the proving ground for digital solutions and the Tech Talks is where we share the outcomes and take questions about those solutions. So one feeds into the other. That’s our general plan. At least that’s how we like it to work.

Since I have the floor I will Fay just take this opportunity to do a quick spruik for our Sector Partner group. So if you’re a Tech Talk regular and you’d like to get more under the covers of digital transformation definitely just let us know. There’s some emails in the deck that you’ll see at the end of our event today. You can email us at any time if you would like to be involved in the sector partner group. We’ll go ahead and also add an email contact into the Slido space so that you know how to drop us a line. If you’d like to volunteer please do so. We can connect back with you and hook you into that community.

Okay. Hopefully that explains the question and our answer. Thanks Fay. Back to you.

Fay Flevaras:

Thanks Janine. That was a great explainer. And yes the more people that participate with the different perspectives and the different views the better the solutions that we can put out there to make sure that they’re hitting the mark and delivering really good outcomes.

So our next couple of questions, because we’ve bundled a couple up, start with a B2G question. I’m going to call up Emma to answer these ones for us. So you’ve got two there. I’ll hand over to you.

Emma Cook:

Thank you Fay. All right.

Q:        Where can I find out more about B2G conformance?

Well the answer to that one is simple. It is at the B2G Developer Portal. So there’s no I guess constraints on being able to see the information on that B2G Developer Portal so definitely go to or just Google if you can’t keep that link in mind, and look up the B2G Developer Portal. On there there’s a conformance specific tab. There’s also lots and lots of information and simple steps, one through to four, of what you need to know. But really in the conformance space you go to that simple tab, you can see more about the conformance assessment scheme, the simplified conformance model that we have available, profiles, test specifications as well as the practicalities of software registration and the assessment process.

Probably final thing. If you do get stuck or if you find that there’s something else that you want to know, at the bottom there’s a little link to email us at So no need to remember those links and emails. It’s all simple and available when you get there. But the moral of the story is the B2G Developer Portal is the place to go for all things B2G including conformance. And of course we work really closely with the Australian Digital Health Agency to develop all of that conformance information, conformance profiles and our approach and assessment of conformance software. So that is the B2G one hopefully covered and giving everyone what they need to know.

Q:        What is the self-service function in GPMS?

So this is something that we’re looking forward to introducing on GPMS mid this year. Really as I said GPMS intends to provide a streamlined portal that supplies that modernised repository of expanded information about providers and direct access for providers to manage their organisation’s information and directly view regulatory information. 

So with the introduction of that Self-Service Portal mid-year what you’ll be able to do is login, view more information than what you can currently see about your organisation and services, update information about that and about your key personnel, including doing the notification and determination forms that you currently have to do separately and offline. So really bringing a bit of efficiency in there. Over time we’ll then look to expand on this Self-Service Portal functionality and this under the new Act could include things like the current provider application process which under the new Act is referred to as registration, bringing those processes and new additional I guess requirements under the Act onto that portal into that one single streamlined location for aged care providers. Thanks Fay.

Fay Flevaras:

Thanks Emma. Now unfortunately Josh wasn’t able to make it along with us here today so I’m going to respond on his behalf on a couple of questions that he had. First up he had:

Q:        Does the data and digital strategy talk about AI in Aged Care?

And it does. The draft strategy identified artificial intelligence in the aged care as a priority with its ability to support providers to maximise time for direct care and encourage innovation within the sector identified. So feedback on the draft strategy further identifies the sector’s interest in AI. I think it’s a bit of a hot topic as we all know. And outcome 4in the strategy under the ‘Encourage innovation and provide stewardship’ priority is about Government leadership, setting clear guidelines, standards, and ensuring uniformity across the aged care sector and links to AI.

So the practical measures around the role that AI can play within digital technology in the sector will be detailed in the action plan which should be published later in the year. As you’ve already heard from Mel there’s some consultation around AI at the moment as we start to draft up the new Aged Care Act. So if anyone has a view on how AI should be used within the sector please provide those views because all the different perspectives really help us to inform what that action plan should look like. And we will continue to work with the sector to share and adopt and adapt to innovative ways towards our common goals.

So hopefully that answered the AI question. Moving onto the next one.

Q:        What support is available to help older people access digital services?

The draft strategy also identified the need to support and uplift digital literacy and digital capability for older people and all of those people supporting them and using this in turn to increase the health literacy to help enable older people to take greater control of their own ageing. Outcome 1in the strategy under the ‘Promote healthy ageing, independence and choice’ priority is about accessing the current digital capability among older people to provide tailored training, ongoing learning support and opportunities and technical support for the digital queries they have to help them.

There will be further information available once the strategy and action plan is released later in the year however in the meantime there is a lot of helpful guidance and information on the Be Connected website who we will be working closely with. Again you can do a Google search on Be Connected. Be Connected is an Australian Government initiative committed to increasing the confidence, skills and online safety for older people. It’s already out there. There’s lots of great information. Be Connected empowers people to use everyday technologies so they can thrive in our digital world. 

So we’ll make sure to drop those links in at the end of the session as well. Hopefully that answers that one. We have one final question which was for me. I chose to take it and basically it comes down to:

Q:        Is there potential for funding to help providers upgrade their legacy systems to more interoperable solutions?

I’m pretty sure I get this one every single Tech Talk. We do recognise there is great variability in provider digital maturity out there and we’re currently looking into ways to support this under outcome two of the Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy and its accompanying action plan. We will present this action plan in future Tech Talks in the coming months. We’re absolutely committed to finding ways to help uplift the sector but in the meantime we’re happy to hear suggestions on how we might do that. I know that I haven’t exactly answered the question but I didn’t want to just forget about it. I wanted to acknowledge that it’s being raised and that we continue to work within the Department and with Government to see how we can best support you.

Okay. So they were our hot questions from last year that we kind of needed to catch up on. On that note it’s time to move to Q&A in this current Tech Talk. And there’s a few different questions online. This is where you get your answers. There is still time to put your questions on the Slido so please I encourage you to do so. And I will hand over to Janine to facilitate us through the Q&A. There you are. Thanks Janine.

Janine Bennett:

I’m back. All right. So Q&A time. This is where we answer your questions. There’s still time as Fay said to get yours into the Slido so don’t be shy. So I’d like to welcome to stage our panel for today. So we’ve got Fay, Emma and Mel coming along to sit on our panel and we’ve got some folks in the background on standby in case we need to delve a little bit more into the technical spaces or into the ADHA arena.

Looks like we’ve got plenty of questions already. I’m going to start just by giving a bit of a heads up to Jayasri, Bryce Macryannis and George Margelis. If you guys would like to just prepare yourself for stage we’ll bring you in for your questions in that order, one, two, three. In the meantime, I will just start with an anonymous question just to get us out of the gate. So this first one is for Fay.

Q:        Is there an ETA to make APIs available to electronically submit SIRS to the MAC portal?

Do you want to take that one first of all Fay?

Fay Flevaras:

That’s okay. And I might actually mix the question because there’s another one in there about My Aged Care portal and accessing APIs and they’re kind of one and the same. I think I’d just start off by saying B2G – and Emma you might want to add to this – B2G is our platform for aged care where we want to connect to the software industry. That will work for both GPMS and MAC. So B2G is that channel for software. So when we go – I think there was a question there that said:

Q:        Are there APIs accessible for interacting with the My Aged Care portal?

B2G will be that place to go as well, such as pulling client referrals. And Emma we might want to talk about that one. But as we said today I think the main ones we’ve got going at the moment were focused on some of the new regulatory reporting that we asked for last year so that we could reduce the administrative burden there, and then we’ve got a prioritised set coming for this year. So how about I throw to you a little bit Emma and add to that as well. 

Emma Cook:

That sounds good. And I think you’ve covered it really well Fay. What I would say is we certainly welcome suggestions and advice so do feel free to put in the comments here, to take part in the sector partners group where we do talk a little bit more frequently and engage with volunteers as Fay’s covered with that group around particular areas we should focus on for these digital initiatives including B2G, or feel free to reach out, send emails and contact us with your suggestions around really important areas to focus that potential direction for B2G.

We’ll continue to collate these as a basis for future consideration and then subject to decisions of Government regarding the expansion of B2G we can then look at what those priority items are as well as in the context of the new Aged Care Act of course and reforms and changes that are underway for us to start to introduce additional efficiencies. Thanks Fay.

Janine Bennett:

Great. Thanks guys. We might just bring Jayasri to stage and I hope I’m pronouncing your name correctly. Feel free to get me on the right track if I’m not. I’ll get you to just turn your audio on and if you have a camera feel free to put that on as well. I note that your question has just been covered but was there anything else you wanted to ask the panel before we move on or does that basically cover your question?

Audience Member:

Hi. My name is Jayasri. Thanks for answering that. 

Janine Bennett:

That was very wrong, wasn’t it.

Audience Member:

That’s fine. I can understand. Thanks for answering that. I’m very particularly looking for the timelines. It’s been prioritised from the last discussion. Because the first time I’m attending this forum so it would be great to get that kind of input so we can plan our development work in a way.

Fay Flevaras:

So from a timeline perspective I think you would have heard in this session which APIs we’re prioritising this year. At the moment the client ones that you’re probably looking for aren’t in that set. They’re more reporting on the provider side. As we look to the new Aged Care Act and also the – is it Support at Home or is it Home Care reform, depending on which way you want to describe it – we will definitely be looking at what client APIs can be done in conjunction with that. Sometimes there’s an ordering on how we do these things so we don’t want to put stuff out there that we’re only going to have to go out and change again as the reforms come down the pipeline. So the order of them is probably based on what has been developed from a reform perspective and is not going to change a lot. And then where the change is coming we wait so that then we can build the reforms and then develop the APIs off the back of that.

So at this stage I wouldn’t see them coming in the next sort of six to 12 months Jayasri. It’s probably something – I’m saying it wrong I think, your name – Jayasri. I think it’s probably towards the later or beginning of next year before we can give you an ETA.

Audience Member:

Thanks so much Fay. That’s answered. Thank you.

Fay Flevaras:

At least you know. It may not be early enough but at least you have a timeline. Thanks.

Audience Member:

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Janine Bennett:

Thank you. Thanks for coming to stage. Okay. So next we invite Bryce  Macryannis. Bryce do we have you there? Again feel free to turn your camera on. It’s always nice to see a face.

Audience Member:

Yep. Thank you. Sorry. Just realised I had to do that. Thanks for taking my question and totally appreciate that you wouldn’t know how to pronounce my last name. It’s  Macryannis but it doesn’t matter.

Fay Flevaras:

I would say  “Macryannis” because I’m Greek. Is that Greek?

Audience Member:

Yeah. Anyway thank you. So basically since the care minutes – the tile has come onto the GPMS portal no one within our organisation at HammondCare has been able to see the targets. I have emailed the helpdesk but I’ve got no ETA, no information as to what’s occurring there other than to say that they mentioned to me that it was a known problem. So I guess my question is when can it be fixed and what sort of communication can I get in response to the ETA?

Fay Flevaras:

So firstly thank you. Yes we run a million miles an hour with GPMS and there’s lots of changes happening. And so as much as we would like them to be perfect sometimes we do get some quality defects coming through. I’m glad you put it up on the Slido early because it meant that I got to ping the team behind the scenes and got a bit of an update for you. And apparently it has been addressed. It’s currently going through testing and I will get the teams to make sure they provide an update communicate out so that we can give you an exact ETA. But I wouldn’t say it’s more than – I’m going to give myself lots of time – two to four weeks. But somewhere in that vicinity. So hopefully that answers. And we really appreciate how that can be an inconvenience and your patience so thanks so much for getting up here and letting us know.

Audience Member:

No. Thank you. Appreciate it.

Janine Bennett:

Thanks Bryce. Okay. We’ll bring George to stage but while we’re on the subject of care minutes we also have an anonymous question that I might try and slide in. So it says:

Q:        Now care minutes are being added to the GPMS portal will they be removed from MAC reports tab or will both be maintained?

Is this a good one for you Emma?

Emma Cook:

Yeah. I’m so glad you asked because I was wanting to get in for Bryce to say don’t worry. So Fay 100% this is identified and she’s been generous with that timeline for the remediation. Always under promise I think and over deliver. And then the backup for those services – and it’s not all services but some who are experiencing issues viewing the target, that they can still see their care minute targets in the My Aged Care service and support portal. So I guess fear not. You can still login. We would have liked to have kept it all in that one streamlined location but if you’re worried and if you need to see that information it is available through that My Aged Care service and support portal. Over time the intent is absolutely to continue to move provider functionality out of that portal and to create that one single streamlined support. So you will over time see those things such as care minutes move out of the My Aged Care portal.

But for right now and for those people like Bryce who are affected they are there and you can view them there. The other thing to note and with respect to Bryce’s question is we’re always looking at ways that we can better communicate these messages. So the Contact Centre is one of the ways and we always update them when something’s not working as it should so that they can give you that advice around it being a known issue. We send communications out. But we’re also looking at banners and other things that might be available for us to better identify when you login to the portal that something might not be right and the timeline for that to be remediated. So thanks again. And the short answer is yes we will be moving provider functions across to GPMS. 

Janine Bennett:

Excellent. Thank you so much Emma. I will before we move on just give an early warning to the next people we’d like to invite to stage. So Jodie if you would like to get ready, and Stuart Smith also, it would be great to have you on stage. Just a reminder to have your video on if possible and be ready to turn your mute button off when we bring you to stage. In the meantime we have George our Tech Talk regular joining us. Thank you George first of all for your comment. We really are trying to set a high benchmark for how we engage with our stakeholders in this digital transformation work so we really appreciate your feedback. Thanks for that right off the bat. But over to you for your question. 

Audience Member:

So Hola. I’m currently in Barcelona about to chair a session on technology in healthy ageing. So this is a great bit of more information for me to provide at the forum. The question we get asked a lot at the council is around what changes do we need to do to our IT systems to prepare for the changes in the Act. And I know it’s a bit of a chicken and egg because we don’t know what the Act is yet. So what recommendations would you make to providers in particular around home care who many are now facing a situation where some of the older systems are being end of life. What should they be doing to prepare for this Act as far as their IT infrastructure goes? And the second question is around the AI issue and Fay raised it earlier. There’s a lot of discussion about AI in aged care but it’s still pretty nefarious. We don’t really, really know what it means in aged care. So is there a plan to develop a local centre of excellence so we can actually research it more effectively and have a more detailed discussion? That’s all from me.

Fay Flevaras:

I’ll start and then you guys can throw in. How’s that Janine? Yeah. You guys can come in. So let’s start with the first one which is how do they prepare. I think there will be quite a lot of information that comes down the pipeline over the next two to four months quite rapidly. So I think starting off just having a bit of a stocktake of what they’ve got already, where they’re doing things manually, where they’re doing things in an automated fashion using technology already. Just really having a very good understanding of their current environment is probably a very good start. Look at it from the lens of what they need for their customers versus what do they need for their staff in that sense. Because we always break it down into that human-centred perspective in the two personas in that sense. And then the third one being what do they need to report to Government.

So if they can kind of start there then when we start delivering some of the information quite rapidly we might say things like – I’m going to make something up now – in Support at Home this is how it’s going to change and we’ll do XYZ. This is what it means for clients. This is what it means to providers when they’re going to start working in the new healthcare reform. And then this is what you’ll need to report to Government. And so that way they can do a pretty quick snapshot of where are they today and where do they need to be. 

I think on the AI side of things we’ll definitely as Mel said – and I might throw to her a little bit more – around we’re trying to put some guardrails in on where AI should be used and where it shouldn’t be used in that sense. And so as we explore that we can definitely bring it back as an agenda item at our next one or two Tech Talks to discuss that and then we can continue to evolve together. I think there’s a lot that we can be discussing. It’s just a matter of not everyone’s answer is going to be the same because not everyone’s starting from the same starting position.

Audience Member:

So from the software perspective I mean is there plans around conformance testing or conformance requirement testing so that people know that software is suitable or is it going to be more a commercial decision you need to make one on one with your vendors?

Fay Flevaras:

So I’ll probably take that one on notice. There is an element of not being able to provide advice per se in that sense but I think we should be able to provide checklists of considerations out there that they should consider, things like – and it will come down to where we land with the legislation but should data be sovereign? Should it be hosted only in Australia. A lot of the AIs when you’re using them depending on which ones they are take data offshore. So I think we can as a collective community identify a checklist of considerations that they can then be used by different providers to make their own decisions. And again we have a huge spectrum of providers all the way from very small, manual-based businesses all the way to your quite large enterprises that have a lot of automation and are quite sophisticated. So we’re just trying to create a very even advice to help everyone in that sense. Maybe we should be breaking it down a little bit into subclasses. I don’t know. Happy to get feedback from the community to go – rural/regional has been one area that we’ve already considered differently, because they’re often very small and they don’t have the bandwidth to be able to look at every single initiative. So we’re trying to group things up and give them a monthly newsletter of what’s changing in that sense.

Mel did you want to add anything? 

Janine Bennett:

That sounds like a good one to come back to at a future Tech Talk, just to keep things tracking. I’m just really conscious of time. I might just hit on that second part of George’s question around are there plans to develop a local centre of excellence on aged care AI?

Who’d like to jump in?

Fay Flevaras:

Is there any consideration in the legislation Mel around kind of a centre of excellence?

Mel Metz:

No. But what there is in the legislation, one of the objectives of the system – and remember we’re trying to legislate for a future aged care system – is innovation. So that’s definitely something that we’re looking towards. I think there’s this weird clash of kind of law and technology on AI and I don’t think it will surprise anyone on this call if I say law just doesn’t keep pace with what’s happening in technology. What we’re doing with the Aged Care Act is actually very, very limited in that we’re only authorising Government decision making using computers in certain contexts. And I think there’s a whole ecosystem of AI development and potential for use in AI outside of that context that we’re not even exploring in the legislation.

I think what I’d say out of the consultation process – and it’s probably something that you’ve all heard before – as soon as people saw the word ‘computer’ in the legislation they got very worried and they thought computers are going to be making decisions about what my aged care needs are and they’re going to be assessing me. Whereas actually what we’re authorising is much more limited than that. So there’s a whole range of issues. There’s the law keeping pace with technology. There’s what people’s perceptions are around the use of AI and then there’s the fantastic potential that that technology offers us in terms of innovation. So it’s a really rich topic for discussion and the law is only a tiny little piece of it.

Fay Flevaras:

That’s actually a great clarification Mel. Thank you.

Janine Bennett:

Yeah. It’s good and I’m sensing it’s a good subject to revisit. I think we’re going to be doing that a lot over the coming months. Thank you George. Enjoy your time in Barcelona. Appreciate you attending despite being overseas. It’s great to see you.

Audience Member:

It’s 5:00am. That’s fine. Normal time for me.

Janine Bennett:

Bright and early then. Great. I think we’ll quickly invite Jodie to stage. And we’re running really tight on time so we might make this our last question. Sorry Stuart but I will give you a little bit of information that might help you out with your question once Jodie’s done. So Jodie welcome.

Audience Member:

Thanks so much for having me. Hopefully I’m not taking up too much of anyone’s time. And I’m hoping you can answer my question. So we’re a very small organisation. We have myself who’s the director and a 2IC Holly. We’ve been in the industry now for about 13 years so we’ve seen a lot of changes come and go. The struggle we’ve got is obviously the reform is quite big and I find that most webinars, most documentation, most software programs, most portals are very much residential based and very minimal home care based. So not only are we trying to sort of sift through what’s pertinent to home care and we’re trying to keep up with the reforms. So is there a way or is there somewhere where we can make a home care platform available to us home care providers so we’re not sort of trying to drill through what’s pertinent to us and what’s not pertinent to us in regards to the reform?

Fay Flevaras:

Thanks Jodie. Anyone want to start?

Mel Metz:

I can start on that. I think Jodie it’s such an important point that you make because what we are looking for in the future is more diversity of providers in the system and definitely the regulatory model is being set up for that very purpose, so that we can have smaller providers and sole traders right up to big providers who are doing residential aged care. And I think you’re right that a lot of our communications is probably targeted at the bigger providers and we need to get better at that. What I will say about home care and support at home, if you haven’t joined Nick Morgan’s Q&A webinars definitely join that because he’ll give you a sense of what’s coming and what the policy development is. 

And on the regulatory side of things there’s definitely a lot of work that the Commission is doing to get ready for the regulatory changes that are coming because it will mean that a provider like yours that only provides a certain type of services is not regulated in the same way as a big residential aged care provider. Obviously your reporting requirements should be different. The requirements and record keeping requirements on you will be different. So we are trying to create a system that recognises that full spectrum of providers. I don’t know if anyone wants to comment from an ICT perspective on that.

Fay Flevaras:

I can add. So a lot of the comms you would have seen through these channels, the Tech Talk and the sector partner community, have been very focused on the changes that we’ve been making and a lot of that has been around the bigger providers and the residential aged care facility domain I suppose so far. But actually the Support at Home home care reform will be a focus in the next 12 months. And so what we might do based on your question is actually through these channels create targeted here’s what it means for Support at Home and just separate those two a little bit. So just hopefully that will help create a bit more clarity. So I appreciate the question because it means we can adapt the way we’re communicating a little bit especially in the next 12 months where there will be some changes for home care. But thank you so much.

Janine Bennett:

Thank you very much Jodie. It’s actually great to have some of our Support at Home providers joining this community as well. And so we’ll definitely make a note that there’s more questions about what’s coming down the pipeline for those. Stuart apologies. We’re not going to get time to bring you to stage but I notice that your question related to support at home as well. Just for information for anyone who has a similar interest our Tech Talk number nine which happened on the 31st of May 2023 did have a Support at Home feature. We had Nick Morgan along to talk about the intent for Support at Home. You’ll be able to check that out on YouTube so we encourage you to go and have a look at that. 

Just one other quick answer to a question from Rob about having access to the deck. Yes this deck will be published on the website. Anyone who’s registered for this webinar will get an email with those links in it but otherwise you can just go to the Department of Health and Aged Care website, search ‘Digital Transformation’ and you will find a copy of this deck live in a week or so.

I’m afraid I’ve got to call it. We are running really, really tight as per usual. Thanks Emma, thanks Mel. Big thank you to all of our speakers today. So Jess, Jo, Marina and obviously Fay as well. Appreciate you leading us through these conversations at each of our Tech Talks. A little reminder that tomorrow there is a new Aged Care Act Q&A webinar. It’s not too late to register for that. So if you want to hear more from Mel that’s the place to be. We also encourage everyone to visit the residential aged care web page. There’s links and resources there that are useful for the sector and very informative. Obviously just a little reminder to register for My Health Record and reach out to the Australian Digital Health Agency if you need any support in doing this.

In the meantime, we would just encourage you to complete our post-event survey. This basically is our way of checking in and making sure that these Tech Talks hit on the issues that are most important to you. There’s a QR code on screen right now that you can use for that. As I said the recording and the slide deck for today’s webinar will be on the Department’s website in the next week or so.

That’s it from me. Over to you Fay to sign off. And we’re dead on time.

Fay Flevaras:

Thanks Janine. And a great discussion I think for our first Tech Talk back. So excellent. And thanks so much everyone for joining us, George from overseas even. So it doesn’t matter where you are in the state or Australia or in the globe. 

Next Tech Talk is number 15. It will be April, so approximately six weeks from now. Remember this is an open forum so everyone’s welcome. You might have a colleague who’s interested in the kind of topics that we’re talking about or you might have a topic that you want us to cover. Please send that through to us so that we can make sure that we put it on the coming events. And let’s continue to grow our community so that we can make sure that we change aged care reform to be where we all want to be in the future. 

I’ll leave it there and I look forward to seeing you at our next talk. Thanks everyone.

[Closing visual of slide with text saying ‘In Closing’, ‘Visit the Digital Transformation page on the Health and Aged Care website’, ‘Email us at’, ‘Take the Event Survey’, with an image of a QR code]

[End of Transcript]

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