The independent Office of the Inspector-General of Aged Care has commenced this week with longtime consumer advocate Ian Yates appointed Acting Inspector-General of Aged Care.
The commencement of the office on Monday follows the August 2023 passage of the Inspector-General of Aged Care Act 2023 and marks the implementation of a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Quality and Safety in Aged Care.
The Act gives the office full independence from the Department of Health and Aged Care, and all other agencies, plus the legislative powers to fully investigate systemic issues across the aged care system to help make services better meet the diverse needs of older people in Australia.
Mr Yates steps into the role pending completion of the formal recruitment process for the statutory Inspector-General after being Interim Inspector-General of Aged Care since January 2023. Prior to that he spent more than three decades championing the needs of seniors at Council on the Ageing.
“The commencement of the Office of Inspector General of Aged Care is an historic step as there has never before been such a role in aged care or in any other human services policy area. Aged care is leading the way in greater transparency and accountability,” Mr Yates told Australian Ageing Agenda.
The office will address current and longstanding systemic issues in aged care and present recommendations for change to achieve better outcomes for older people and their families. The Inspector-General must report annually on the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
Mr Yates said the first order of business was to complete the office’s establishment, staffing and other organisational priorities to get operating as an independent body.
“And secondly, it’s to now start more seriously, rigorously working on the development of the first work plan, which will include the full review of the recommendations of the royal commission,” he told AAA.
The work plan will also include what else the office is going to focus on in first half of next year. The recent consultations including round tables and surveys have highlighted what stakeholders would like the office to review and report on, said Mr Yates.
“We’ve received a lot of feedback on what people want us to do… And we’re just finalising a prioritisation process.”
The interim office of the IG compiled a report for the aged care minister for the Aged Care Taskforce, which has not yet been released publicly. The office’s first annual report – which will examine reform implementation up to 31 December this year – will be undertaken in the first five months of next year ahead of the mid-year deadline.
The Inspector-General will report findings and recommendations to government, parliament and the public, with reports by the Inspector General required to be tabled in parliament.
“The establishment of the Office of the Inspector-General of Aged Care will allow systemic issues in the aged care system to be brought to light, it will ensure transparency and accountability, and ensure that complaints are being managed in an effective, efficient, and accessible way, and it will over time restore trust and confidence in a system that works for all,” Mr Yates said.