The Federal Government does not support the private member’s bill calling for aged care providers to disclose how they spend government funds because its usefulness is unclear and it pre-empts the royal commission’s final report, the Senate has heard.

The Senate considered the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Financial Transparency) Bill 2020, which was introduced by South Australian Centre Alliance Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie in October, last Monday.

The bill, if adopted would require residential aged care providers to disclose their income, spending on food, medication, staff, training, accommodation and administration and how much they pay their parent bodies for public reporting.

Stirling Griff speaking at the Senate

South Australian Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff, who introduced a similar bill in June last year, said current reporting systems were “totally inadequate.”

“Aged care providers have argued that they do their best with the limited financial resources available to them. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. It’s hard to know, because we don’t have the information to judge their claims,” Mr Griff told the Senate.

“Financial transparency is a reasonable requirement for any sector receiving tens of billions of dollars of public funds, and the cost of compliance will be trivial. Providers already collect this information, and no private information will need to be disclosed,” he said.

However, Liberal senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson said the Federal Government would not support the bill.

“The usefulness of the proposed public information is not clear, because it has the potential to be misleading to consumers,” Ms Henderson said.

“In some instances, there may be reasons why the itemised cost of medical products – for example, incontinence aids – would vary between residential aged care services such that the information would not necessarily assist transparency for consumers,” she said.

Sarah Henderson speaking at the Senate

Ms Henderson also said the bill pre-empted the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report.

“In its interim report the royal commission has been critical of constant change and moving targets. Embracing these proposals or amendments on their own in a piecemeal fashion would not reflect the importance of the government ensuring that our reforms are integrated, cohesive and solutions driven. We don’t want to pre-empt the royal commission. That would be most inappropriate,” she said.

Ms Henderson said the government was working to amend aged care provider reporting requirements from 1 July 2021.

“This requirement includes the provision that all aged care providers are to provide an Aged Care Financial Report… to the secretary of the Department of Health,” Ms Henderson said.

The revised requirements will introduce more transparency around the operational results of the facilities that a particular provider operates,” she said.

The Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport has been looking into the bill since October and is due to report by the end of March next year.  

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1 Comment

  1. I’m confused… every facility that receives any amount of Government funding must have an Annual Report anyway.
    All of the cost centres mentioned above are itemised within the Annual Report, so what’s the issue?
    This information is already publicly available to anyone who wants to know.
    You need only look up the Annual Report for any given aged care facility to find out…

    Fun fact: Annual Reports even list the facility’s shareholders and this is how it’s public knowledge that Kerry Stokes (of Seven Holdings, aka Channel Seven) is the second biggest shareholder in Estia Healthcare. The corporation which had two of the worst Covid-19 affected facilities in Victoria in the top 10 worst affected list… you won’t hear that reported on the Seven News though…

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