Urgent call for swift action on Aged Care reforms to safeguard rights of older Australians

Jan 31, 2024
Advocates argue that further changes to the new Aged Care Act are imperative to ensure the rights of aged care residents are robustly protected. Source: Getty Images.

In a resounding call to action, a coalition of 12 national organisations dedicated to the welfare of older adults and their caregivers has released a Key Issues Paper, asserting that the proposed new Aged Care Act must have teeth and cannot afford any delays.

The Key Issues Paper is a direct response to the Federal Government’s Aged Care Act Exposure Draft, which has sparked both optimism and concerns. While acknowledging the improvements outlined in the draft, advocates argue that further changes are imperative to ensure the rights of aged care residents are robustly protected.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Officer, Patricia Sparrow, emphasised the urgency of implementing the new Act while stressing the need for additional amendments to guarantee the protection of older Australians’ rights.

“The exposure draft released by the Federal Government is clearly an improvement on the current Act and shows the Federal Government has been listening to the concerns of older Australians and their carers, but there are still significant changes that need to be made to ensure the rights of older people are protected,” Sparrow said.

“Older Australians want and deserve an Aged Care Act that genuinely protects their rights. 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.

“The Aged Care Act is fundamental to achieving the reforms recommended by the Royal Commission and action is needed in this term of parliament to deliver on the promised reforms.”

The Key Issues Paper highlights specific areas of concern expressed by older Australians, including the enforcement of rights, the establishment of a robust and independent complaints system, transparency regarding timelines and funding, and the implementation of strong regulations and penalties for those failing to uphold the rights of elderly residents.

Craig Gear, Chief Executive Officer of the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), emphasised that the new Aged Care Act must promptly establish a comprehensive framework that guarantees the protection and enforcement of the rights of older Australians.

“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,” Gear said.

“We’re looking forward to working with our politicians to make sure older Australians get an Act that enshrines their rights.”

For information or support regarding aged care, please call the Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600 or visit opan.org.au

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