A new Aged Care Act – Have your say!

On 17 January 2024, COTA Australia, in partnership with the Older Persons Advocacy Network and 10 other older people and carer organisations, released their Preliminary Key Issues Paper in response to the New Aged Care Act Exposure Draft.

Scheduled to come into effect on 1 July 2024, this ground-breaking piece of legislation will inform the future of Australia’s aged care. It is vital for older people, their families, and anyone with an interest in the aged care sector to have their say.  This is why we need to hear your views!

Read our Key Issues paper or a summarised version here.

Key issues in the Aged Care Exposure Draft

The Aged Care Royal Commission recognised that the design of the current aged care system meant older people and their families had limited power compared to providers and regulators. However, it proposed a more transparent rights-based approach to aged care, with stronger regulatory powers to correct the power imbalance.

You may recall that last year we ran consultations about various aspects of the Act, which some of you will have attended. Given the benefit of your views and experiences, we made a submission that reflected the feedback provided at the consultations. We are pleased to see that the exposure draft for the New Aged Care Act addresses much of our feedback, with 29 of our submission recommendations reflected in the draft. But the exposure draft doesn’t go far enough to deliver choice and control, transparency, an effective complaints process and enforceability of rights.

Some of the key issues we identified include:

  • The choice and control over how we receive care and services,
  • ensuring rights are enforced,
  • the need for an effective, independent, complaints process
  • the transparency of aged care providers and government actions, and
  • ensuring the Act commences by 1 July 2024 so older people don’t have to wait longer for their rights.

Our Key Issues Paper has been prepared by COTA Australia and OPAN, in partnership with 10 other older people and carer organisations. It presents a preliminary assessment of some of the key issues with the Exposure Draft of the new Aged Care Act and proposes possible solutions for discussion. It is not designed to be an exhaustive list and there will be other issues that arise based on the feedback of older people, carers and stakeholders.  The paper does not address aspects of the Act that we support.

COTA/OPAN Consultations on their submission to the Exposure Draft

A heart-felt thank you to the 717 people who registered for our online Aged Care Exposure Draft consultation on Friday 19 January, and to the 720 people who registered for Monday’s follow-up event.  Our CEO Patricia Sparrow and co-host OPAN CEO Craig Gear, were thrilled by the level of engagement. Your valuable feedback will be included in our final submission to the Australian Government.

We apologise to anyone who feels their voice was not heard during the consultations due to the enthusiastic response across our chat, Q&A, and through direct comments. However, there is still time to have your say on the Aged Care Act Exposure Draft before consultation closes on 16 February.

How to get involved

The Department of Health and Aged Care has a range of opportunities, including:

  • Survey – closes Friday 16 February 2024. Click here to complete online.
    The survey can also be completed by calling 1800 318 209.
  • Workshops and drop-in sessions – to 14 February 2024.
    Click here for locations and to register.

Written submissions – also close on Friday 16 February 2024.
Click here for more information.

We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback to the Australian Government before final decisions have been taken. A final analysis of the exposure draft will be included in our joint submission at the end of the consultation period. We expect Parliament to conduct an inquiry into the next version of the Bill, which must include the parts of the exposure draft still missing (e.g. fees and charges) and call on Australian Government to ensure the ‘Rules’ (subordinate legislation) are available for this inquiry to scrutinise.