The Morrison Government welcomes the release of the Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act (1997) – a vital overview of Australia’s age care system.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the report offered important insight into the sector’s operations during the 2020-21 financial year.
Importantly, it details the challenges faced by senior Australians and the aged care sector in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the critical interventions made by Government as it responded to those challenges.
It includes an overview of systems and resources, service provision from community care through to permanent residential care, services delivered to people with diverse needs, and the provision of regulatory and prudential frameworks to ensure consumers receive high quality services.
“The past year has been extraordinarily difficult for all Australians as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to consume our day to day lives,” Minister Hunt said.
“The impact of the virus has been especially felt by people separated from loved ones living in residential aged care facilities because of visitor restrictions necessary to save lives and protect lives.
“The Morrison Government has worked to support the sector through the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable.”
Minister Hunt said more than $2.1 billion in aged care specific measures had been provided to support residential aged care providers and staff and ensure quality of care.
“This support was wide-ranging and included improved infection-control management and training, workforce support and extra funding to cover the increased costs of caring for older Australians during the pandemic.
“We invested additional funding for better communication with older Australians and their families, as well as improved support for their mental health and wellbeing,” Minister Hunt said.
Minister Colbeck said while managing the immediate threat from COVID-19, the Government has also responded swiftly and decisively to the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, with a comprehensive $17.7 billion package.
“Underpinning this reform are the principles of genuine two-way engagement with all involved parties, combined with a commitment to absolute transparency in reporting from providers, in order to strengthen the financial oversight of the aged care sector,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Strong, independent oversight of the system is essential for good governance and transparency.
“Progress has already been made across the five pillars of reform, including the release of an average of 3000 home care packages each week, resulting in a significant reduction in waiting times for high care packages.
“New legislation, which will deliver risk-based assurance reviews of 500 home care providers every 12 months, will also improve the safety and quality of services provided to older Australians.”
Minister Colbeck said an Engagement Hub has been established to make it easier for consumers, their families and carers, the workforce, and the sector more broadly, can more easily access information on progress.
The Government has also committed $262.5 million to ensure the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is well equipped to safeguard the quality, safety and integrity of aged care services, and can effectively address any failures in care.
“Our commitment to the wellbeing of senior Australians and the integrity of the aged care system is absolute,” Minister Colbeck said.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the sector to implement reforms that will ensure Australia’s aged care system leads the world now and in the future.”
The full report can be found on the GEN Aged Care Data website, here.
GEN is Australia’s only central, independent repository of national aged care data and is managed and regularly updated by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.