The second piece of aged care legislation – the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill – has been approved by a Senate committee with almost unanimous agreement.
Originally due to report on 31 August, and following a public hearing on 25 August, the Senate Standard Committee on Community Affairs approved the bill two days later on Friday.
The implementing care reform bill contains three major proposals, as recommended by the royal commission:
- a cap on home care charges
- increased transparency measures for providers
- mandatory requirement for facilities to have registered nurses on-site 24/7.
Submitting additional comments to the committee’s report, the Australian Greens supported the bill’s passage through parliament with a recommendation regarding allied health in residential aged care.
Coalition senators also submitted additional comments that stated their view “that this bill does not provide the necessary detail to transparently inform providers, the sector or the general public of the requirements to be imposed on aged care homes.
“Much of the detail of this policy reform will be determined by subordinate or delegated legislation, of which there are currently no details. These concerns were continuously expressed throughout the committee inquiry.”
“A one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform home care.”
Responding to the committee green-lighting the bill, CEO of the Older Persons Advocacy Network Craig Gear said OPAN welcomed the bill’s transparency measures, which will lead to the publication of more detailed information about providers’ spending and performance.
“We know from what older people have told us that greater transparency will be crucial to rebuilding their confidence in the aged care system,” said Mr Gear.
Referencing the cap on home care charges, Mr Gear said the measure “addresses one of the issues most frequently raised with advocates across all of our nine member organisations.”
The Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill was introduced to parliament at the end of July along with the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill – which passed both chambers of the house within days of being presented.
The Senate could vote on the implementing care reform bill this week. In order to pass through the house, it will need the support of all 12 Green senators and one crossbencher.
While OPAN praised the Albanese Government for the speed with which it has implemented aged care reform, “there is a lot more to be done,” said Mr Gear.
Citing the rollout of the Support at Home Program, OPAN backs its postponement until July 2024 and is calling for senior Australians to be consulted in the decision-making.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform home care,” said Mr Gear. “Older people must be involved in the design of the program – since they are the experts.”