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Thursday, 27 May 2021
Page: 4931

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health and Aged Care) (09:47): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Today I am proud to introduce the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response Bill No. 1) 2021, which introduces a number of urgent amendments to ensure senior Australians receive the high-quality and safe aged-care services they deserve. It responds to recommendation 17, as well as supportingrecommendations 118 and 27 of the royal commission's final report.

The Australian government is committed to generational reform of the aged-care system to deliver a system that respects senior Australians and their families, provides care that promotes dignity, and responds to the needs of the individual through tailored approaches.

This bill delivers the first stage of aged-care reform developed in response to the royal commission.

The government has heard the calls to strengthen restrictive practice regulation, tighten requirements for the use of restrictive practices by aged-care providers and include better protections for recipients of aged care.

The bill clarifies the requirements approved providers must meet in relation to the use of restrictive practices. Through these tighter requirements, approved providers will only be able to apply restrictive practices:

as a last resort to prevent harm after alternative best practice strategies have been explored, applied and documented, except in an emergency

after considering the likely impact of the use of the practice on the care recipient

to the extent necessary and proportionate to the risk of harm to the aged-care recipient or other persons

where the restrictive practice is the least restrictive form, and for the shortest time necessary to prevent harm to the care recipient or other persons

if informed consent to the use of the practice is given

in accordance with the Charter of Rights and the Aged Care Quality Standards

if care recipients are monitored whilst the restrictive practice is in use and the use and effectiveness is documented.

Further and more specific details of the strengthened obligations on approved providers will be prescribed by the Quality of Care Principles 2014.

This bill and the amended principles will provide a framework to minimise the use of restrictive practices. The amendments do not authorise the use of restrictive practices where it is otherwise unlawful.

The powers of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner will be expanded to include the ability to give a written notice if a provider does not comply with its responsibilities relating to the use of restrictive practices. The commissioner also has the ability to apply for a civil penalty order against a provider if they do not comply with the written notice.

We are delivering on our commitment to provide senior Australians with affordable, value-for-money home care, and will directly support senior Australians to remain in their own homes for as long as possible by establishing an annual program of risk based assurance reviews of home-care providers.

The bill gives the Secretary of the Department of Health the power to require approved home-care providers and their employees to provide information for the purposes of program assurance. The secretary will also be able to prepare and publish reports on assurance reviews, dealing with findings, conclusions or recommendations made as a result of the reviews.

This builds on our existing work to improve transparency of the aged-care sector and fosters community confidence in the costs of the care they receive.

The bill also repeals the requirement for the minister to establish the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA).

ACFA was established in 2012 to provide advice to the government and the aged-care sector concerning funding and financing of the aged-care sector. This advice included eight annual reports.

The government has agreed to establish an advisory group to replace ACFA which will commence operations from July 2021 to ensure the government continues to receive advice on financing issues of the aged-care sector.

This bill is the first step in the government's five-year, five-pillar aged-care reform plan addressing home care, residential aged-care services and sustainability—in line with the five-year time frame set out by the royal commission, on a stepped basis, and I am sure the opposition is aware of and in agreement with the royal commission's recommendations—residential aged-care quality and safety, workforce and governance.

I want to particularly thank a number of people who have helped develop both the bill and the response. I particularly want to acknowledge the Department of Health. Michael Lye, the deputy secretary, and his team have done an extraordinary job in terms of both competence and deep, powerful compassion. I also want to acknowledge Wendy Black, my co-chief of staff, and Jane Kilmartin and Belinda McEniery in my office, for their work. They have done a power of work. I also acknowledge the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Colbeck, all of his staff and all of the stakeholders who have contributed to this.

I want to finish by saying that the health, safety and wellbeing of senior Australians is of the utmost importance to the government. The $17.7 billion response to the royal commission is not only the largest aged-care investment in Australian history; it's the largest response to any royal commission in Australian history, I understand, and it's driving our plan for generational change of the aged-care sector, which will ultimately deliver respect, care and enhanced dignity for our older Australians. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.