Legislation to boost protection for Senior Australians in care

The Australian Government has today introduced legislation into the Parliament to support the establishment of the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) for residential aged care.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, said the Government, through this bill, is providing safe and quality care as a priority and is putting in place stronger measures to help prevent elder abuse to protect the health and wellbeing of senior Australians.

“The Australian Government’s quality reform agenda is strengthening protections and improving delivery of safe, quality care,” Minister Colbeck said.

“The Serious Incident Response Scheme will commence from 1 April 2021 and expands the responsibilities of aged care providers to identify, record, manage, resolve and report assaults and a broader range of serious incidents in residential aged care.”

“Prioritising implementation of the SIRS is part of the Government’s rapid response to the Aged Care Royal Commission’s recommendations into COVID-19 to increase protection for residents,” Minister Colbeck said.

“It will drive quality and safety improvements in residential aged care at the individual service and broader system level.

“It will require aged care providers to manage all incidents, with a focus on the safety and wellbeing of people in aged care. Importantly, providers will need to put measures in place to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring.”

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will have additional resources to administer the SIRS, including receiving reports and taking proportionate regulatory action. The new legislation strengthens the Commission’s enforcement powers with civil penalties, infringement notices, enforceable undertakings, and injunctions across a range of provider responsibilities. This aligns the Commissioner’s powers with contemporary regulatory best practice.

“Significantly, the scheme will remove the current reporting exemption of incidents of abuse and aggression between aged care recipients where the alleged perpetrator has an assessed cognitive or mental impairment,” Minister Colbeck said.

The Government has invested more than $1.7 billion to support senior Australians in aged care since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes a further investment of $132.2 million as part our response to the Aged Care Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s recommendations on COVID-19.

The Government has accepted and is acting on all six recommendations made by the Royal Commission in relation to COVID-19, including an additional $11.1 million investment in the Serious Incident Response Scheme, taking total investment to date to $67.9 million.

“The introduction of the SIRS legislation demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to improving care for senior Australians and keeping them safe,” Minister Colbeck said.

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