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New 'people-powered' movement unveiled

A new 'people powered' movement of passionate volunteers has just launched called Aged Care Reform Now, an initiative aiming to petition the Federal Government for meaningful and sustainable action in the sector.

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The grassroots initiative, Aged Care Reform Now, believes that the Final Report from the Royal Commission will be a catalyst for change. [Source: iStock]

The movement was announced ahead of the release of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's Final Report, which was tabled in Parliament by the Attorney General on Friday, 26 February.

Aged Care Reform Now came from humble beginnings as a Facebook group providing advocacy and advice. The group evolved to become a place of aged care activism.

Co-founder of Aged Care Reform Now, Dr Sarah Russell, says that the initiative is driven by older peoples, and their families, experiences and views of aged care, as their voices have long been absent from conversations about the sector.

"Many witnesses told heartbreaking stories of neglect, negligence and abuse during the Royal Commission’s hearings. Sadly, none of these stories were surprising. Similar stories have been told in submissions to numerous inquiries over the past 20 years," says Dr Russell.

"Since the Aged Care Act 1997 came into effect, the balance of power has been with providers – not older people and families who use aged services. This must change. We urgently need a new Aged Care Act that is focused on human rights of older people."

As the initiative is in its early stages, the focus is now on starting its next major piece of work, establishing Working Groups. 

These Working Groups will have members from aged care, recipients of Home Care Packages, First Nations Elders, older people with a disability, older people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, and LGBTIQ communities.

The aim of the Working Groups is to ensure that older people from all diverse views, experiences and needs are heard and represented.

Aged Care Reform Now will be advocating for:

  • A new Aged Care Act focussed on the human rights of older people

  • Effective regulation in aged care

  • Financial transparency

  • Increased staffing levels and skill mix

  • Disclosure of performance indicators

  • Public access of regulator's spot-check reports

  • Public reporting of complaints including how they are managed and resolved

  • Mandatory reporting of elder abuse

  • Home care that prioritises each individual's need for support

  • Working with older people and families when designing aged care services

The grassroots initiative believes that the Final Report from the Royal Commission will be a catalyst for change and is intending to make aged care an election issue to ensure the Government translates the recommendations into actual action.

Aged Care Reform Now team member, Anna Willis, says, "In today’s day and age, there’s public disclosure of complaints across a whole range of services – from restaurants to hairdressers. Why don’t we have legislated public disclosure of complaints against providers who deliver services for older people? These people are our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and friends."

"So many issues identified in the Royal Commission could have been dealt with much earlier if there had been better public disclosure on the number and nature of complaints. This would have shown that these complaints were not ’one-off’ as providers often claimed."

Aged Care Reform Now wants to make the consumers at the heart of all discussion around aged care for their advocacy work.

Recently, a new industry group advocating for change in aged care, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), was also unveiled with a targeted campaign aiming to make politicians follow through on systemic change in the sector.

Some consumer advocacy groups were critical of the AACC, as it only consisted of aged care industry groups and had no involvement from consumers.

To find out more information about Aged Care Reform Now, visit their website.

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