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Royal Commission calls on the community to ‘have their say’

All members of the Australian community are now able to ‘have their say’ on the focus of the recently announced Royal Commission into the Aged Care Sector, all thanks to a new online tool.

The Australian public can now have their say on what the Royal Commission into the Aged Care Sector could cover (Source: Shutterstock)
The Australian public can now have their say on what the Royal Commission into the Aged Care Sector could cover (Source: Shutterstock)

The feedback tool added to the Department of Health’s website, will allow anyone and everyone to comment on the Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission, which is focusing on the quality of care provided in residential and home aged care to senior Australians, but also including young Australians with disabilities living in aged care settings.

Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, announced the feedback tool, noting that the final Terms of Reference will be determined in consultation with the community, including residents and their families, and aged care providers.

They say they expect the Terms to cover:

  • The quality of care provided to older Australians and the extent of substandard care;
  • The challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities;
  • The challenge of supporting the increasing number of Australians suffering dementia and addressing their care needs as they age;
  • The future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged care services in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia;
  • Any other matters that the Royal Commission considers necessary.

“The Government’s commitment to safe, quality, compassionate, flexible and affordable aged care services for our senior Australians is absolute,” Ministers Hunt and Wyatt say.

“Incidences of older people being hurt by failures of care simply cannot be explained of excused. We must be assured about how widespread these cases are.

“This Royal Commission will be about proactively determining what we need to do in the future to ensure these expectations can be met.

“Evidence to date shows that the problems are not restricted to any one part of the aged care sector, whether it is for profit or not-for-profit, large or small facilities, regional or major metropolitan.

“The Royal Commission will look at the sector as a whole, without bias or prejudice. It will make findings on the evidence.”

Seniors advocacy group - Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) - supports the community input sought by Government, with acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Craig Gear encouraging the community to get on board with what they can when it comes to the Royal Commission.

“OPAN feels the Royal Commission is a good way to unpack the complexity in navigation and access to quality services in aged care,” he says.

“Our ageing population means it's time to act and plan now.

“People do need to get involved to tell of their concerns once the Royal Commission gets up and running. It’s the way to being about change. And we’ll be here to also walk alongside them.”

Fellow national seniors advocacy group, Council on the Ageing (COTA), has also shared their support of the community’s involvement in the Royal Commission.

“We are pleased that the Government is seeking wide input to its consultation on the Terms of Reference,” COTA CEO Ian Yates says.

“COTA agrees with the Prime Minister’s view that the Terms of Reference must be focused so that clear and forward looking recommendations are provided." 

The community consultation for the Terms of Reference will be able to be lodged online or through writing to Minister Hunt or Minister Wyatt until 25 September, with the Royal Commission set to take public submissions once it has commenced.

Minister Wyatt will also commence consultation with a wide variety of groups including community, families, relatives, advocates, sector participants including staff and operators, and health care professionals starting from next week.

Minister Hunt will also consult with the medical community on the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference.

Anyone with immediate concerns about loved ones in aged care are encouraged to contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552.

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