The Rudd Government’s first major amendment to the 1997 Aged Care Act has passed successfully through federal parliament.

The new law contains a number of added requirements for providers, including an extension of the current police check program to all staff – whether supervised or not – working in residential aged care.

Providers will also be required to report all missing residents to the Department of Health and Ageing as well as the police.

The Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot said the main purpose of the new law is to strengthen the protections for aged care residents.

A key feature of the legislation for consumers is a tightening of regulations around bonds or refundable deposits.

“We made these reforms to address current legislative inadequacies and to maintain effective regulatory safeguards,” Mrs Elliot said.

“I am committed to improving the quality and safety of aged care homes in Australia. Amending the Act is about ensuring the wellbeing of residents.”

In a bid to reduce unnecessary re-assessments, the new law will allow ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) approvals to last beyond their current 12-month shelf life.

At the same time, the government plans to provide an extra $72.16 million to the states to boost ACAT services.

The new law will also allow for the prompt transfer of aged care places that are not yet operational, in “exceptional circumstances”.

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