This week in politics

This was a very busy week for the tabling of aged care related reports in Federal Parliament and the announcement of the recommencement of the Senate Inquiry into Aged Care Quality Assessment and Accreditation.


24 Oct 2018

 

Inquiry into the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Bill 2018 and related Bill

The committee tabled its report in the Senate on 19 October 2018 after a very brief inquiry. The speed of the Inquiry is due to the tight timeframes for the Bill to pass in Parliament ready for its implementation from 1 January 2019. There are only two more sitting weeks before Parliament takes its Christmas break.

A copy of the committee’s report can be accessed here

ACSAs Submission is here

ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow gave evidence at the Inquiry on behalf of members.

The only recommendation was that “these Bills be passed” and with both the Government and  Opposition supporting that recommendation they will get through the Senate. They have already passed in the House of Representatives.

There were some additional comments from the Greens who flagged that they are likely to consider some amendments. The Greens stated that:  “Our concerns about the Commission Bill relate to the exclusion of the Chief Clinical Advisor's role and the undefined scope of this position, the Commission not being a single point of contact as indicated, the lack of reference to the human rights of older Australians, the lack of reference to representatives of older Australians and access for these representatives, the scope of the Commissioner's consumer engagement and education functions, the lack of reference to Commonwealth-funded aged care services in section 59 and the lack of a review provision.”


ACSA will keep a close eye on any amendments and the progress of the Bills. In summary, the Inquiry report concluded:

  • The committee strongly agrees with the clear consensus from witnesses and submitters to this inquiry that the establishment of the new Commission is a positive step forward in protecting the rights of older Australians receiving aged care services in their homes, or within aged care residential facilities.

  • This inquiry received recommendations from representatives of aged care recipients, advocacy and rights organisations, workforce representatives, medical experts and providers of aged care services, that the objects and functions of the Commission could be expanded beyond the current proposal to merge the existing functions of the Quality Agency and Complaints Commissioner. The committee acknowledges that some of these recommendations would require legislative consideration, while others could be incorporated into the work of the Commission once established.

  • The committee believes that these recommendations show a desire from all people with an interest in the aged care sector for continued improvement and oversight of aged care service delivery, as well as an endorsement that the new Commission is seen as the appropriate entity to show leadership in the Australian Government's continuing reform agenda to improve aged care services and regulation.

  • The committee agrees with the consensus view expressed to this inquiry that these recommendations for expanded functions should not delay the establishment and commencement of the Commission, proposed to begin from 1 January 2019.

  • The committee also acknowledges evidence from the Department indicating the intention to undertake consultations on the second round of legislative reforms required for the transfer of departmental functions to the Commission, and that this will include consultation of opportunities for enhancements of the Commission.

 

Call for Additional Submissions: Senate Inquiry into Aged Care Quality Assessment and Accreditation


The Chair of the Senate Community Affairs Committee, Senator Rachel Siewert, this week called for additional submissions to the inquiry into the “Effectiveness of the aged care quality assessment and accreditation framework for protecting residents from abuse and poor practices” (originally abbreviated as the Xenophon inquiry). The Inquiry was originally referred on 13 June 2017. The new round of submissions are due 30 November and the reporting deadline will be February 2019. ACSA will be making an additional submission.

The Interim report of this Inquiry was handed down in February 2018, please click here to read.

In announcing the call for further submissions, Senator Siewert said that because of the number of regulatory measures now underway - single Quality Standards, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and the Royal Commission into Aged Care – this inquiry will now focus on: “the regulation of medical, nursing and allied health services within the aged care context. Evidence received so far shows that medical care in an aged care facility has a far lower level of regulation than the same medical services provided in other contexts. This is particularly true of services relating to mental health and cognitive impairment.”


House of Representatives: Report on the inquiry into the quality of care in aged care facilities in Australia tabled


The House of Representatives Health, Aged Care and Sport Committee, also released its Report on the Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia.  Following a referral last December by Minister for Health Greg Hunt, the inquiry examined the delivery and regulation of the current aged care system.  The Report is available here

This document is reported on in more detail in this ACSA Weekly. ACSA welcomed this further contribution on the aged care system and noted that the committee acknowledged financial concerns with the inclusion of a Recommendation for a review of the Aged Care Funding Instrument to ensure it provides for adequate levels of care. ACSA understands that this report and recommendations will be considered as part of the Royal Commission so there will be many opportunities for ACSA to raise issues of concern to members.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Heather Witham, ACSA National Government Relations Manager on heather.witham@acsa.asn.au