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Thursday, 24 June 2021
Page: 10

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women) (10:27): I thank senators who have contributed to the debate. The Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 1) Bill 2021 makes three urgent changes to deliver the first stage of aged-care reform in response to the royal commission and to ensure that senior Australians receive the high-quality and safe aged care they deserve.

From 1 July 2021, this bill introduces important limitations on the ability for approved providers to use restraints and strengthens protections for aged-care recipients from any abuse associated with this practice. The term 'restraint' will be replaced with 'restrictive practices', continuing regulatory harmonisation with the disability sector. Further and more specific details of the strengthened obligations on approved providers will be prescribed by the Quality of Care Principles 2014. The bill and the amended principles 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 Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner's powers 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 and the ability to apply for a civil penalty order if they do not comply with the written notice.

The bill establishes an annual program of risk based assurance reviews of home-care providers. The Secretary of the Department of Health will be able to require approved home-care providers and their employees to provide information for the purposes of program assurance and to prepare and publish reports on the assurance 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, the ACFA. An advisory group will be established to replace ACFA from July 2021 to ensure the government continues to receive advice on financing issues of the aged-care sector.

Again, I thank senators for their contributions to debate on this bill. The health, safety and wellbeing of senior Australians is of the utmost importance to the government and is driving our plan for generational change of the aged-care system.

The PRESIDENT: The questionis that the second reading amendment moved by Senator Watt be agreed to.