Consultation period for the new Aged Care Act extended

Published on 14 February 2024 (Last updated on 21 February 2024)

Aged care stakeholders will have three more weeks to share their thoughts on the new Aged Care Act. [Source: Shutterstock]

Just as the door for the Aged Care Act consultation period was expected to slam shut, the Government has extended consultation for a further three weeks. This is in response to recurring feedback from industry stakeholders that more time was needed to review the draft Act and provide feedback.

Key points

  • The exposure draft of the new Aged Care Act was released on December 14 2023 with an initial two-month window provided for consultation
  • While the Act has been well-received, stakeholders have identified key issues, including the lack of intent to regularly review the Act or enforcement for delivering high-quality care
  • With many respondents saying more time for consultation is required, the due date for feedback is now March 8, exactly three weeks after the initial February 16 deadline

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, said the number one recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was for the Australian Government to develop a new rights-based Aged Care Act. 

The introduction of the new Act is an incredibly important change to Australia’s aged care system. It replaces the Aged Care Act (1997) which has received regular amendments but is almost 30 years old. 

Minister Wells said it is essential the rights of older people are placed at the centre of the new Act.

“Consultation on the new Act opened in mid-December and we have heard from people who receive and deliver services and care across the industry,” Minister Wells said.

“Following feedback from stakeholders requesting more time to review the draft and share their views on this important reform, the Government has agreed to extend the consultation period on the Act by three weeks to 8 March 2024.”

“We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to tell us what they want from the aged care sector through online surveys, phone calls, email submissions, in-person workshops and online drop-in sessions,” she added.

Additional clarification on fees, payments and subsidies is likely at the forefront of many conversations. Charles Maskell-Knight wrote that this section remains incomplete – and it may do so until the Aged Care Taskforce recommendations are incorporated to some extent – as are the sections setting out the regulatory powers available in the event of a critical failure by a provider.

The new Act does feature stronger regulatory mechanisms, with providers at risk of civil penalties or being charged with a criminal offence if they breach obligations. However, there have also been calls to ensure the Statement of Rights for aged care consumers is enforceable through positivity duty so individuals receiving care are not let down. 

“Without any measures to make sure the Statement of Rights are upheld, they simply become good intentions. The rights of older people in aged care must be given the same importance as measures to ensure the quality and safety of care,” Geoff Rowe, CEO of Aged and Disability Advocacy (ADA) Australia said.

“I understand that there is need to balance safety and rights in service delivery, but how can a balance be achieved if there is no weight on the Rights side of the scales?”

Once the final version has been released it’s expected to pass into legislation from July 1.

Anyone interested in providing feedback for the exposure draft can do so via a survey (online or over the phone), while additional written submissions or questions are allowed. No additional workshops, either in person or online, have been announced alongside the consultation period’s extension. 

More information is available on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website

aged care
Aged Care Act
aged care reform