House debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Questions without Notice

Aged Care

2:21 pm

Zoe Daniel (Goldstein, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport. Why does the government's new aged-care legislation grant immunity from liability for engaging in restrictive practices? Will the minister reconsider this and offer an indemnity rather than immunity to aged-care providers, as proposed by the Australian Lawyers Alliance and other experts? There are many fine aged-care facilities, including several within Goldstein; however, per the royal commission, there are far too many instances of mistreatment of residents.

Photo of Anika WellsAnika Wells (Lilley, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Goldstein for her question. May I congratulate her on her election victory and welcome her to this place. She is very welcome indeed. And I congratulate her on her first speech, which we heard earlier. Can I also acknowledge the way that she has asked this question, in good faith. I welcome the opportunity to assuage some of the concerns.

I know that this issue was ventilated last night in the Senate and that some of the stakeholder groups within aged care are worried about it, so let's use this opportunity to be clear. The immunity will only apply where restrictive practices are used as a last resort, only to the extent that they are necessary, for the shortest time possible, in the least restrictive form and—crucially, I think, here—to prevent harm to the care recipient. It is a temporary measure. We take that on board. And it is just to clarify a gap in the legislation between the Commonwealth legislation and some of the state and territory legislative requirements with respect to the use of restrictive practices, specifically until—you asked about revisiting it—we bring in the new Aged Care Act, which the royal commission has asked us to do by 1 July next year. So this is a sunset clause that gets us to the opportunity to consult fully with all of our advocacy groups to make sure that the new Aged Care Act is as good as it could possibly be. This is reform that has to last for decades. We want to do it once. We want to do it well.

I'd also note that there are stakeholder groups that support the way that we have done this temporary measure. The Council on the Ageing has come out in support, particularly in favour of the particular wording of the measure we've used, and so has the Older Persons Advocacy Network. I want to note that they support the specific amendment because, without it, harm to older Australians and harm to aged-care workers could occur. That's why we've done it for the next 12 months.

In my remaining time, may I update the member for Goldstein that, of the 20 residential aged-care facilities in her electorate, four currently have outbreaks, but—above the national average—you have 79.3 per cent with their fourth dose, and more than 99 per cent of aged-care workers working in facilities in Goldstein have their fourth dose. So congratulations and thanks for your advocacy on that.