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Aged Care Minister, Anika Wells introduced two aged care Bills into the House of Representatives on the first sitting of Parliament since the election on Wednesday. The Minister stated that “the government is committed to improving transparency, integrity, and accountability in aged care.”

The two Bills address the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (Royal Commission) and Labor’s election policies on the sector. The two bills are expected to rapidly pass through Parliament having already passed through the House of Representatives.

The former Morrison Government only adopted nine of the 148 recommendations of the Royal Commission and ignored the Royal Commission’s recommendation that nursing homes should have a registered nurse (RN) on site 24/7.

The Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 (Care Reform Bill), will require that a RN be on-site at all aged care homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Care Reform Bill will also improve transparency related to costs in the sector. The Government will be able to cap administration and management fees on home care packages and aged care providers will be required to publish financial figures.

These changes will gradually be implemented over the next twelve months with the changes coming into effect on 1 December 2022, 1 January 2023 and 1 July 2023. Additionally, while there is a requirement that a RN be on site 24/7, there will be some exemptions to the nursing requirements. It is important for providers in the sector to seek legal advice before the changes come into effect to ensure compliance with the new legislative requirements.

The Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 (Royal Commission Response Bill) will implement further recommendations of the Royal Commission. Key changes include:

  • Introducing a Code of Conduct that will apply to approved providers and their aged care workers and governing persons;
  • Extending the Serious Incident Response Scheme and Incident Management System requirements that apply in residential care to home care;
  • Implementing a new residential care funding model;
  • Introducing an independent pricing authority;
  • Requiring the Secretary of the Department to publish information regarding the quality of care and performance of each age care provider; and
  • Enabling greater information sharing between Commonwealth bodies in relation to aged care workers and providers.

In addition to these changes, the Fair Work Commission’s aged care work value case has received submissions from Unions where they have called for a 25 per cent pay rise for aged care workers. These changes would be an increase of approximately $5 per hour. While the Federal Government has not yet confirmed whether they would support a 25 per cent pay rise, they have committed to funding the increase awarded in the case.

If you would like more information about the legal implications of the proposed changes and how they may affect your business, please contact our experienced Employment and Workplace Relations team for assistance.

This article was contributed to by Solicitor, Maida Mujkic.