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Aged care peak bodies put the Government on notice

The Federal Government has been put on notice by key aged care peak bodies as it has been 100 days since the May Federal Budget and they believe there has been lacking consultation on critical aged care reforms during that time.

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Peak bodies say "the door appears to be firmly shut" when it comes to the sector's involvement in the planning process of the Government's aged care reform rollout. [Source: Shutterstock]

Since the Government announced its $17.7 billion "once in a generation" response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's Final Report, the industry has described the Government's actions as "left wanting".

In June, Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA), Anglicare Australia, and UnitingCare Australia wrote a joint letter to Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and Minister for Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, as well as Prime Minister Scott Morrison, outlining the principles and priorities they felt were required for transformational overhaul in the aged care system.

However, the peak bodies believe the Government's lack of consultation with the industry around the implementation of these important changes is not the way to fix issues in the aged care sector properly.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LASA, Sean Rooney, says, "You cannot have successful and significant reforms without meaningfully working with the people who have to implement them.

"The result of a failure to appropriately engage will be confusion and misinformation, slowing progress to realising better outcomes for older Australians.

"The engagement process thus far has left the aged care sector significantly concerned that the once in a generation opportunity to fix our broken aged care system will not translate into meaningful actions and tangible outcomes."

Peak bodies say "the door appears to be firmly shut" when it comes to the sector's involvement in the planning process of the Government's rollout of its Five Year, Five Pillar plan.

The organisations believe that a one size fits all approach is not appropriate in the sector and that those at the forefront of service delivery to older Australians have a lot to offer in regards to what changes work and do not work.

Today, 19 August, marks 100 days since the Government officially released its aged care reform plan, however, the sector says they can't articulate the disappointment they are feeling about the lack of aged care industry's involvement in the implementation process.

Within the 148 recommendations from the Royal Commission, it stipulates that the Government needs to include aged care sector groups, like providers and consumers, in consultation around reforms and making them a reality. 

Peak bodies say the Government is falling behind in this area and have seen little evidence of aged care sector involvement.

UnitingCare National Director, Claerwen Little, says, "We in the sector are working to change our thinking and accept that we are as responsible for making this change happen as much as [the] Government.

"As we reflect on the past two decades of inquiries and reports, all of which failed to bring about real change, we know that the change we want to achieve is a shared responsibility for all stakeholders across the aged care sector from providers, to workers, consumers, allied health, medical and Government.

"It’s not good enough that the Government thinks it can drive reform in the aged care sector without including representatives in designing significant changes to critical aspects of aged care delivery."

Executive Director of Anglicare Australia, Kasy Chambers, agrees with Ms Little, saying that the reason the Government failed in aged care reform previously is because they didn't involve the people that matter.

"A key reason as to why past attempts at reform have failed is a lack of real engagement on how key changes will actually be implemented and how they will work in practice at the service level," explains Ms Chambers.

"Things need to change if we are to succeed in this once-in-a-generation opportunity for real aged care reform."

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