New Aged Care Act two years away, minister says

It’s unlikely that there will be a new Aged Care Act before the two-year deadline set by the royal commission.

It’s unlikely that there will be a new Aged Care Act ahead of the two-year deadline set by the royal commission, aged care services minister Richard Colbeck has indicated.

commission pagone briggs
Aged Care Royal Commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs

In a keynote address to CEDA last Friday, Senator Colbeck said some of the royal commission’s recommendations will take time, including calls for brand new aged care legislation.

The final report of the royal commission makes 148 recommendations, including replacing the existing aged Aged Care Act with a new one by July 2023.

Senator Colbeck said scoping, drafting and legislating a new Act will take “a period of time”.

“It’s probably a couple of years that will be required for a new Act,” he said.

“Setting up a completely new structure will take time and that will obviously impact on the speed and capacity for government and the system to react.”

However, he said the industry and the community would see continuous improvements along the way, with the government to provide a full dollar response in the federal budget.

Home care to feel immediate change

Home care in particular will see more immediate results, the minister said.

“The budget will address things like access to home care services and pricing and transparency around home care services, and we’d like to see the effects of that happen quite quickly because the sector is growing rapidly,” Senator Colbeck said.

He also said the government will decide by the end of May which way it will go in terms of the differing views of the royal commissioners.

While commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs both agreed the system is in need of sweeping reform, they differed on issues around mechanisms for governance and regulation.

Most notably, Commissioner Pagone recommended the establishment of an Aged Care commission  by 2023 to administer the aged care program, while Commissioner Briggs advocated bringing aged care under the health department and renaming it the Department of Health and Aged Care.

“You’ll have that answer very quickly,” Senator Colbeck said of which way the government will go.

“We’ll respond to the royal commission’s recommendations by the end of May so … so we’ll know very quickly what path we’re going to go down with respect to those issues. We want to get on with this.”

Aged care services Minister Richard Colbeck delivered a keynote address to CEDA via video on March 12, 2021.

Need to utilise technology

Meanwhile, Senator Colbeck said the aged care sector must make more use of technology, and should be required to switch to digital reporting.

“About 40 per cent of providers report quality indicators manually,” he said.

“We ought to require, within a period of time, that all providers are reporting their quality and financial indicators automatically.”

The uptake of technology in the home care sector also needed to step up.

“When you go into care at home there are all sorts of ways that I think we can utilise technology to assist people,” Senator Colbeck said.

“Whether that be monitoring people in the home in the way that they’re comfortable with, or supporting them in living at home.

“Technology is a real facilitator in the delivery of care services and providing efficiency to providers in the way they operate.

“There’s a lot of gains for all of us in the utilisation of technology.”

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1 thought on “New Aged Care Act two years away, minister says

  1. Whilst we are all frustrated by the length of time it has taken to get the Royal Commission report, and probably a bit tired after reading it all, I think we need to be cautious of knee jerk reactions to the recommendations.
    Some of the time frames for the recommendations are aspirational, but it doesn’t mean we should jump in boots and all and start delivering them without some planning.
    In particular, the technology-related ones that I have a direct interest in need proper scoping and consultation. This is not to say we become lost in the mire of continuous meeting, but rather we develop a staged implementation plan and leverage skills from other industries to deliver on them.

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