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Tuesday, 1 December 1998
Page: 978

Senator HEFFERNAN (4:02 PM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard .

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows

This amendment to the Aged Care Act 1997 continues to reflect the Government's commitment to not unduly burden small business with administrative red tape under the new aged care funding arrangements while, at the same time, providing quality aged care services with built in protections for older Australians.

The Government has established the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency (the Agency) to manage the accreditation of aged care services. The Agency will play a leading role in ensuring that residential aged care facilities achieve and maintain high standards of care and accommodation.

This amendment clarifies the Government's intention that the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency would charge appropriate fees for accrediting aged care services.

From January 2001 all aged care services must be accredited in order to receive Commonwealth subsidy for the provision of aged care. The level of accreditation fee is expected to reflect the cost of the service and be comparable with other commercial accreditation arrangements in similar industries.

Therefore the impact on aged care services of paying an "accreditation fee" every one or three years, depending on the quality of the service, will be minimal and the financial advantage of becoming accredited will far outweigh the requirement to pay fees.

The Government consulted widely during the development of the Aged Care Act 1997 and associated Principles, and has listened to the concerns of service providers since the implementation of the Government's aged care reforms. The establishment and operation of the Agency were an outcome of this process.

This amendment clarifies the current Agency arrangements set out in the Aged Care Act—the legislation that has seen the most significant reform to the provision of aged care in Australia over the last decade. The legislation that encourages innovation, flexibility and creativity in service delivery and planning.

Debate (on motion by Senator O'Brien) adjourned.