Home | Aged Care Royal Commission | Reforms delayed to consider “extensive and valuable feedback”
The Aged Care Minister said delays were due to the feedback. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman

Reforms delayed to consider “extensive and valuable feedback”

Leaked documents suggest aged care reforms that were to start in July have been delayed for a year.

The aged care sector faces further delays in implementing crucial changes recommended by the Royal Commission after internal communications leaked from the department revealed that proposed reforms, initially slated for July 1 2024, may not come into effect until January or July 2025.

The proposed new laws include changes to the standards for residents' rights and quality of care, and creating a simpler system.

The draft act also suggested the possibility of civil and criminal penalties for aged care staff and directors found to be breaking the new laws.

The delay in the implementation timeline has many experts concerned about the future of the sector.

Chief of COTA Patricia Sparrow said any delay to the introduction of the act would be "a blow" to the rights of older Australians.

"Older Australians want to get aged care set up right now and into the future, but it doesn’t mean we need to move at a glacial pace," Ms Sparrow said.

"The idea of pushing back this vital legislation to as late as July 2025 is simply unacceptable."

Chief of Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) Tom Symondson disagreed, saying the act was pivotal in changing aged care and its ability to deliver care, and time should be taken to make sure it's right.

"This is a chance to usher in a new era to reform our aged care system," Mr Symondson said.

"So, we need to make sure that the legislation, which will likely govern the aged care sector for the next 30 years, is not rushed. We need to get this right.

"[The delay] allows more time to engage meaningfully with older people, the community, the sector and other stakeholders. It is far more important that the legislation and associated requirements be passed when it is ready, than passed to meet the 1 July date."

While the commencement date is to be confirmed by the government, the introduction of the bill to Parliament is slated for June 2024.

"We are calling for at least six to 12 months transition from the time at which all information is available, including the finalised Act, Rules, guidance and education materials," Mr Symondson said.

"A staged approach to implementation of these new reforms should also be adopted so providers can effectively manage change within their organisations, their workforce and engage with their residents and care recipients.

"Older Australians deserve nothing less than the confidence that Australia will get this right."

Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said the delay was due to the "extensive and valuable feedback" given during the consultation process.

"We heard strong feedback that the proposed new Aged Care Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for systemic reform that we must get right," Ms Wells said.

"The Government is now considering the extensive and valuable feedback to refine and finalise the draft legislation before it is introduced to Parliament.

"We will update the commencement date of the legislation following these updates and before the bill is introduced to the Parliament."

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