Aged Care

Advocates demand “teeth” in new Aged Care Act

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Major advocacy groups have released key issues paper urging critical rights protections in Australia’s forthcoming Aged Care Act. They also warned against any delays to the legislation beyond the government’s July 2024 deadline.

The joint paper comes in response to the federal government’s recent aged care reform exposure draft. It outlines lingering concerns around the enforceability of older people’s rights, complaints processes, funding transparency and regulator accountability.

While labelling the draft a “huge improvement” on the current act, COTA Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow said additional changes are still required to truly safeguard older Australians.

Key priorities include guaranteeing residents’ visitation rights, creating binding mechanisms to uphold rights, and establishing independent complaints bodies.

“Older Australians want and deserve an Aged Care Act that genuinely protects their rights.,” Sparrow said. “That means the new Act needs to not only include detail on how the rights of older people will be protected, but also how they will be enforced.”

Advocates are holding the government accountable for its commitment to having new legislation finalised by next July. The act is viewed as essential to realising reforms proposed by the landmark Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

As OPAN CEO Craig Gear noted, “Older people are telling us they want their rights and they want them now. They can’t wait any longer.”

“It has been three years since the Aged Care Royal Commission delivered its final report, recommending the creation of a new rights-based Aged Care Act. We’re looking forward to working with our politicians to make sure older Australians get an Act that enshrines their rights,” he added.

The groups seek to collaborate with parliamentarians to ensure the act delivers clear standards, meaningful oversight and penalties for non-compliance.

Their paper outlines key priorities like enforceable consumer rights, a robust complaints process, funding transparency and strong regulation.

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