The Albanese government is championing a transformative overhaul for the rights of older Australians through groundbreaking reforms, deemed a “once in a generation” initiative.
The envisioned Aged Care Act seeks to enshrine a comprehensive declaration of rights for the elderly, simultaneously elevating standards for those residing in care facilities.
The proposed Act would include a statement of rights for older people and lift standards for people in residential facilities.
Other key features include introducing criminal penalties for aged care providers who do the wrong thing and providing additional protections for whistleblowers to allow reporting without fear of reprisal.
Other key features of the reforms include:
Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells said the proposed reforms mean “we are now at the threshold of a once-in-a-generation change”.
“The new Aged Care Act is core to putting the rights of older people at the centre of aged care,” she told AAP.
“We must get it right.”
Wells is urging older Australians, their families and carers, and providers and workers to have their say on the draft laws as the government seeks feedback on the draft for new legislation. People can provide feedback until mid-February 2024.
Wells said the government made a commitment to addressing the issues facing the aged care sector and is delivering on those promises.
“We are working hard make aged care more transparent, to increase direct care for aged care residents, delivering higher worker standards, getting nurses back into nursing homes and have backed aged care workers with a pay rise,” Wells said in a statement.
“We are focused on delivering effective consultation to ensure all Australians have the opportunity to help us create an aged care system Australia is proud of.
“An aged care system that is accessible for everyone no matter their background or location. Aged care services that are innovative, safe and high quality, delivered by a workforce that is skilled, valued, supported and flexible. The new Aged Care Act aims to make all of this possible.”
While some may welcome the reforms and what they mean for the aged care sector, Greens Aged Care spokeswoman Janet Rice criticised the government for releasing the draft for consultation 11 days before Christmas.
“Advocates and community members deserve to have a proper summer break without having this very substantial draft of critical aged care legislation interrupting their holiday,” she told AAP.
“It’s already clear that the draft is flawed.”
Senator Rice said it was “incredibly disappointing” the statement of rights specified the protections were not enforceable, which advocates have long called for.
Australians can have their say until Friday, February 16 2024 by:
For more details, visit the www.health.gov.au/aged-care-act-consultation