Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 June 2021


Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 1) Bill 2021; Second Reading

6:13 pm

Photo of Amanda StokerAmanda Stoker (Queensland, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Today I am proud to introduce the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response Bill No. 1) 2021 which introduces a number of urgent amendments to ensure senior Australians receive the high quality and safe aged care services they deserve. It responds to Recommendation 17, as well as supporting Recommendations 118 and 27 of the Royal Commissions final report.

The Australian Government is committed to generational reform of the aged care system to deliver a system that respects senior Australians and their families, provides care that promotes dignity, and responds to the needs of the individual through tailored approaches.

This Bill delivers the first stage of aged care reform developed in response to the Royal Commission.

The Government has heard the calls to strengthen restrictive practice regulation, tighten requirements for the use of restrictive practices by aged care providers and include better protections for recipients of aged care.

The Bill clarifies the requirements approved providers must meet in relation to the use of restrictive practices. Through these tighter requirements, approved providers will only be able to apply restrictive practices:

                Further and more specific details of the strengthened obligations on approved providers will be prescribed by the Quality of Care Principles 2014.

                This Bill and the amended Principles will provide a framework to minimise the use of restrictive practices. The amendments do not authorise the use of restrictive practices where it is otherwise unlawful.

                The powers of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner will be expanded to include the ability to give a written notice if a provider does not comply with its responsibilities relating to the use of restrictive practices. The Commissioner also has the ability to apply for a civil penalty order against a provider if they do not comply with the written notice.

                We are delivering on our commitment to provide senior Australians with affordable, value for money home care, and will directly support senior Australians to remain in their own homes for as long as possible by establishing an annual program of risk-based assurance reviews of home care providers.

                The Bill gives the Secretary of the Department of Health the power to require approved home care providers and their employees to provide information for the purposes of program assurance. The Secretary will also be able to prepare and publish reports on assurance reviews, dealing with findings, conclusions or recommendations made as a result of the reviews.

                This builds on our existing work to improve transparency of the aged care sector and fosters community confidence in the costs of the care they receive.

                The Bill also repeals the requirement for the Minister to establish the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA).

                ACFA was established in 2012 to provide advice to the Government and the aged care sector concerning funding and financing of the aged care sector. This advice included eight annual reports.

                The Government has agreed to establish an advisory group to replace ACFA which will commence operations from July 2021 to ensure the Government continues to receive advice on financing issues of the aged care sector.

                This Bill is the first step in the Government's five year - five pillar aged care reform plan addressing home care, residential aged care services and sustainability, residential aged care quality and safety, workforce and governance.

                The health, safety and wellbeing of senior Australians is of the utmost importance to the Government, and is driving our plan for generational change of the aged care sector.

                Debate adjourned.

                Ordered that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour.