Submission to Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs on the Inquiry into the Bills to Implement the Living Longer, Living Better aged care reform package

Parliament now has before it legislation, in the form of five separate but linked bills, to reform Australia’s aged care system by implementing the government’s Living Longer. Living Better aged care reform package announced in April 2012.

COTA welcomes this Senate Community Affairs Committee Inquiry into the Bills, as we welcome robust Senate committee scrutiny of all significant legislation.

The Inquiry provides opportunity to:

  • suggest areas in which the government of the day might improve the reforms in the process of their implementation;
  • address some issues and misunderstandings that have emerged in debate on the reforms; and also
  • address the absolute need for this legislation to be passed in the current session of Parliament.

This submission recaps the need for, and importance of, aged care reform. From a consumer perspective the reforms embodied in the Aged Care (Living Longer. Living Better) Bill, in particular, fundamentally shift the current aged care system toward one which is more consumer focussed and directed. COTA has been advocating for this for many years.

While these Bills do not go as far as COTA would like in a number of areas, they do not prevent those further steps being taken as the next stage in the reform process. The Bills are enabling of, and kick off, a reform process which COTA is confident can be enhanced through the implementation process and in years to come, including through the proposed 2016 independent review.

COTA is strongly urging multi-partisan support for the passage of the Bills so these important reforms can start on time on 1 July 2013. If these Bills do not pass in this session then aged care reform is at risk and older Australians will miss out on the benefits.