Start of a new era, delegates told

Aged care in Australia is on the threshold of a new era, industry conference told.

“We stand on the threshold of a new era of aged care in Australia.” That was the welcoming message delivered to delegates attending the inaugural national conference of the Aged & Community Care Providers Association in Adelaide – Kaurna Country – Wednesday.

During the opening address, ACCPA chairman Dr Graeme Blackman told delegates seated in the Adelaide Convention Centre that, when it comes to advancing the aged care reform agenda, “We’re all in this together – it’s up to us.”

ACCPA’s desire is to shift the focus from compliance to excellence, Dr Blackman told delegates. To achieve this, he said there needed to exist a true partnership approach with government. “A partnership that is underpinned by respect.”

ACCPA chair Dr Graeme Blackman delivers opening address

Noting the failures of reform of the past – “and there have been many” – Dr Blackman said: “Too often key players in these processes have viewed aged care service providers with suspicion, questioning their motivations or competency and dismissing the voices and insights of the people who actually do the work, creating deeper divisions that are counterproductive to realising meaningful change. This cannot continue.”

At the end of the day, “ACCPA, service providers and the government will be judged by what we deliver,” said Dr Blackman. He added the key stakeholders needed to be accountable to each other. “Accountability with transparency is a perquisite to realising real reform.”

Dr Blackman was followed on stage by Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells who told delegates: “We are all here for the same reason. To make aged care at home and in residence a safe place where people have the quality of life that they deserve.”

Referencing the aged care royal commission’s final report, Ms Wells said it made for hard reading because it revealed an ugly truth. ”We fell short of Australia’s expectations for aged care.”

On an optimistic note, Ms Wells told delegates she believed that, by working together, “fundamental, tangible and meaningful” improvements could be achieved. “With your help, we will create lasting change. In the near future, I want to look back and see the changes we have made make a real difference.”

In a well-received speech, that at times elicited whoops and applause, Ms Wells told delegates: “I hope that, together, we will be the change and we will get this reform done. Bring it on.”

Largest sector event in Australia

The ACCPA National Conference is the largest gathering of aged care providers ever assembled in Australia with more than 1,700 delegates attending – 1,000 in the main hall and 700 others in an overflow space. There are also 160 businesses displaying their wares in the exhibition hall.

Over three days, delegates – many meeting in the flesh for the first time in three years – will hear from experts across the aged care sector on a broad range of subjects, including:

  • financial sustainability
  • technology and data
  • governance and strategy
  • costing and pricing
  • remodelling home care
  • learning lessons from Covid
  • the future of allied health services
  • implementing the Serious Incident Response Scheme.

In all, there will be more than 80 plenary sessions taking place with speakers ranging from researchers, consultants, advocates and sector executives.

The new peak body’s inaugural conference has been much-anticipated by industry stakeholders. It is the first national gathering of ACCPA members since the peak commenced operations on 1 July.

An amalgamation of former peaks Aged & Community Services Australia and Leading Aged Services Australia, ACCPA’s membership  is open to all providers of aged and community care services, retirement living, seniors housing and aligned services.

The recent commitment to form a single peak dates back to 2021 when ACSA and LASA agreed to consolidate.

Voted overwhelmingly by the organisations’ membership, ACCPA was established to represent the sector with one voice by uniting the diverse range of aged care providers under a single advocacy agenda.

Through discussion, debate and networking drinks, the ACCPA National Conference offers aged care stakeholders the opportunity to solidify that agenda and develop a roadmap to navigate them through the maze of reforms that lay ahead.

Main image: Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells addresses ACCPA conference

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