Just weeks have passed since Scott Morrison announced he would be launching a royal commission into the aged care sector, and now the prime minister has revealed the details of the commission which will deliver its first findings in just 12 months time.
Speaking at a joint press conference alongside Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Ken Wyatt and Minister for Health Greg Hunt, Morrison warned the country to “brace itself for some difficult stories ” ahead of the inquiry, which will take place in Adelaide.
“The country is going to have to brace itself for some difficult stories,” he said. “But that’s part of the process of this royal commission, to confront these stories honestly and to confront them in a way that helps us learn.”
Morrison also announced that West Australian Supreme Court Justice Joseph McGrath and former Australian Public Service commissioner Lynelle Briggs have been appointed as the royal commissioners. The royal commission is expected to deliver its interim report by October 31, 2019, and its final report by April 2020.
He added: “‘Our country is ageing and that brings with it great challenges, what we need to ensure is that culture of respect and that dignity is provided to older Australians.
“It isn’t just about the terrible instances and neglect and abuse, it’s about how are we going to deal with this problem into the future. With more people being able to make the decision, thankfully, to remain in their homes for longer, as they enter residential aged care system their needs are more acute.”
So far the government has received more than 5,000 submissions to the royal commission, which is set to focus on quality and safety; the extent of substandard care; delivering accessible and affordable care and future challenges when it comes to delivering high quality care.
The Health Minister added that the royal commission is “ultimately about building a national culture of respect for senior Australians” adding that Briggs and McGrath will offer a “frank and fearless approach”.
He said: “They have been selected not just because of their history, not just because of their capabilities, but because they will bring a culture of caring and concern.
“We know that there will be some difficult times and difficult stories but above all else this is about the future and laying down a foundation for years to come.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Minister Wyatt said the royal commission had come about because the government had listened to those who have been affected and thanked the prime minister for granting the royal commission, which he believes will give families an assurance of quality when it comes to aged care services.
Morrison announced that a royal commission would be taking place in September, citing inexcusable failures of care at facilities across the country, after receiving information from a government audit, which revealed that the Department of Health has closed almost one aged care service per month since the notorious Oakden facility in Adelaide was shut one year ago.
Elderly abuse within aged care homes has been under the spotlight since the Oakden nursing home was permanently closed. Residents at the facility, which specialised in care for dementia patients, were subjected to horrific abuse, including both sexual and physical assault.
The royal commission will look at the aged care sector as a whole and will also include young Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care settings.