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RC finds governments unwilling to act for last 20 years


Successive Australian governments have lacked the will to commit to change or adopt recommendations from the many aged care reviews and inquiries of the past two decades.

That’s the finding of the latest background paper produced for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The royal commission report provides an overview of 18 major public reports and inquiries related to publicly-funded aged care in Australia since 1997 and government’s often tardy reply to them.

“Responses often come years after the review and recount what has been done in an almost tangential way,” the paper says.

“Even when responses are provided, they can be opaque, rendering it near impossible to even determine whether the Government intends to implement the recommendation in the form proposed by the reviewer.

“Changes committed to are often slow to eventuate, or fall away prior to implementation.”

The reviews and inquiries examined in the paper have addressed multiple aspects of the aged care system, including funding, workforce, the regulatory system, young people in residential aged care, palliative care, dementia care, and quality and safety.

The Letters Patent for the Royal Commission direct the Commissioners to consider the findings and recommendations of previous relevant reports and inquiries.

Background Paper 8: A History of Aged Care Reviews looks at reports by Parliamentary committees, the Productivity Commission, the Australian Law Reform Commission and other independent reviews commissioned by the Australian Government.

“While governments have responded with ad hoc reforms to elements of the system, they have not been able to resolve the underlying problems with a system that has failed to provide the Australian community with the assurance of quality and safety in aged care that it expects,” the paper concludes.

Colbeck says inquiry offers a “short political window” to enact change

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck told the Leading Age Services Australia National Congress in Adelaide on Sunday the royal commission provided an opportunity to implement reform that would otherwise be difficult to do.

Senator Richard Colbeck

He said there would be significant change in the sector over the next 18 months driven by the outcomes of the royal commission’s interim report due this week and the final report in 12 November next year.

“From my point of view I think we have seen enough reports, we have seen enough reviews.

By the time we finish with the royal commission, we should be in a position to act,” Mr Colbeck told the conference.

“The royal commission will give us the imprimatur probably for a relatively short political window to do some things that might be difficult otherwise to do.”

The royal commission’s interim report is due to be handed to government on Thursday. AAA understands the report will be publicly available on Thursday afternoon.

The latest background paper is part of a series prepared for the Office of the Royal Commission, which are all available here.

To stay up to date on the latest about the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety go to our special coverage. 

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