Older Australians and their carers tell Government what they want from the new Aged Care Act

Older Australians and those close to them want human rights embedded in a new Aged Care Act, according to a submission to the government being released today.

13 organisations, including advocacy organisations for older people and carers, have today released the findings of their joint inquiry into the Foundation of the Aged Care Act based on direct information from older Australians and other key stakeholders.

The Federal Government has committed to implementing the Royal Commission recommendation to develop a rights based aged care act and has been consulting widely on what a new Aged Care Act should look like.

Key findings presented to the Federal Government in the submission include:

  • Mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing the rights of older people need to be implemented.
  • A change culture implementation plan is recommended to outline how rights will be embedded into daily aged care operations.
  • A future complaints system must be person-centred, robust and effective, with alternative was of handling complaints, overseen by a statutory Complaints Commissioner.
  • Supported decision-making must be the foundation of decision-making in aged care, with an assumption that older people can make decisions for themselves.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow:

“Putting the voice of older Australians at the centre of the discussion around the future of our aged care system is crucial.

“What we’ve found is that while of course older people have a diverse range of views, the vast majority are united on many things including on the need to embed human rights in the new Aged Care Act being developed by government, on putting safeguards in place to ensure every Australian can get access to the quality aged care they deserve, and on improving our aged care system for generations to come.

“For too long older Australians, whether due to systemic ageism or other factors, have not been given ownership of their lives when the time comes for them to access aged care. It’s time that changed.”

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) CEO Craig Gear OAM:

“The overwhelming majority of older people who attended our consultations support a new rights-based Aged Care Act – and they want us to get on with it.

“A significant number of older people also told us that the Act won’t be worth the paper it is written on if it isn’t supported by the necessary regulatory levers and enforcement pathways.

Carers Australia CEO Jane Bacot-Kilpatrick

“It is essential the rights of older people and their carers be included in the new Aged Care Act and the sustainability of funding for high quality aged care services is achieved.

“Australia’s family and friend carers are a core axis of the aged care triangle along with consumers and service providers, and they are key to the economic sustainability of system.

“Aged care reforms must be carer inclusive.”

National Seniors Australia’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Grice:

“At the top of a long list of lessons from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is that reform of the aged care system must embed the human rights of older people at its foundation.

“Creating an Aged Care Act and system explicitly built on a human-rights approach will empower older people to expect and claim quality, safe care as their right.

“It will also support and guide providers to deliver services that meet those expectations.”

Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) Chief Executive Officer, Mary Ann Baquero Geronimo:

“A new rights-based Aged Care Act is critical to have an aged care system that reflects multicultural Australia and embeds diversity at the core of its practices. Older person from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds aspire for an aged care system that supports them to maintain their cultural heritages, ensures that they are free from discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or their need for language support, and allows them to take action if their rights are violated.”

Signatory organisations include: Association of Independent Retirees (AIR); Carers Australia; Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia; Dementia Australia; Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA); Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia; Legacy; LGBTIQ + Health Australia; National Seniors Australia; Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN; National Association of People With HIV Australia; Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC) Alliance; The Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL).


Download the submission from https://cota.org.au/information/resources/submission/joint-submission-foundations-of-the-aged-care-act/ or https://opan.org.au/about-us/publications/submissions.


Media contacts:

  • COTA Australia: Tamara Kotoyan, 0430 291 890, tamara.kotyan@essentialmedia.com.au
  • OPAN: Vicky Roach, 0412 720 025, media@opan.com.au
  • Carers Australia:  Lucy Tatchell, 0428 948 415, communications@carersaustralia.com.au
  • National Seniors: Anna Townend, 0488 047 380, a.townend@nationalseniors.com.au
  • FECCA: Christina Ng, 0468 867088, christina@fecca.org.au