Major Aged Care Reforms: What to expect
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New Aged Care Act Could Be Delayed – An Update for Providers April 2024

9/04/24
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The Government has suggested that it will delay the start of the new Aged Care Act. What does this mean and how does it affect aged care providers?

Note: this information is current as at 9 April 2024.

 

Background

  • The Government was planning to make three interrelated major reforms to aged care on 1 July 2024:
  1. new Aged Care Act
  2. new Aged Care Quality Standards
  3. new regulatory model
  • The new Act will introduce a new “person-centred” aged care system that includes a Statement of Rights; it will set new obligations for providers and workers and expand the powers of the regulators.
  • The new Standards will reduce the number of Standards from eight to seven, and consolidate some areas covered by each of the current Standards. There will be a new Food and Nutrition Standard.
  • The new regulatory model will require providers to register under a “registration category”. Registration is expected to be for three years at a time. There will be a transition period to help providers adapt to the new model.

 

The Delay: What We Know So Far

The Government has said that it will change the start date for the new Aged Care Act. The Government has not said when the new start date will be. These are the key points:

  • In early April 2024, Nine News leaked Government documents which said that the implementation date for the new Aged Care Act was “TBC”. The documents suggested that instead of a start date of 1 July 2024, the laws might commence in January or July 2025.
  • On 3 April 2024, the Minister for Aged Care released a statement which said, “The Government is now considering the extensive and valuable feedback to refine and finalise the draft legislation before it is introduced to Parliament. We will update the commencement date of the legislation following these updates and before the bill is introduced to the Parliament.”

 

When Will the New Aged Care Act Commence?

We don’t know. The Government has said that it will change the start date but hasn’t said what the new start date will be. There is some suggestion that the date might be January or July 2025.

 

What About the New Aged Care Standards? Will They Be Delayed?

It is likely that the new Aged Care Standards will also be delayed but we don’t know this for sure.

To bring the new Standards into force, the Government must pass a law. According to the Department of Health and Aged Care, the Government’s original plan was for the new Standards to be “drafted into legislation under the new Aged Care Act”. In other words, the Government would use the new Aged Care Act to bring the new Standards into force.

This suggests that the new Standards will start at the same time as the new Act. However, we don’t know this for sure. The Government could treat the new Act and the new Standards separately, postponing the new Act until 2025 but passing a simpler law to start the new Standards on 1 July 2024.

 

What About the New Regulatory Model? Will this be Delayed?

Probably. Many of the changes to the regulatory model must be made via the new Aged Care Act, so it is most likely that the new regulatory model will commence at the same time as the new Act, whenever that may be. In fact, the new regulatory model will probably commence sometime after the new Act commences. This is because there will be a transition period to help providers adapt to the new model.

 

What Can Providers Do Now?

Stay alert and wait for more information from the Minister for Aged Care. Refer to our Aged Care Wrap for a fortnightly summary of aged care news.

 

 

Aged Care Reform Guide 2024

 

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About the Author

Mark Bryan

Mark is a Legal Content Consultant at Ideagen CompliSpace and the editor for Aged Care Essentials (ACE). Mark has worked as a Legal Policy Officer for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and the NSW Department of Justice. He also spent three years as lead editor for the private sessions narratives team at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts/Law from the Australian National University with First Class Honours in Law, a Graduate Diploma in Writing from UTS and a Graduate Certificate in Film Directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

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