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What’s Happening with the Aged Care Law Reforms? Post-Election Update June 2022

6/06/22
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In the wake of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Morrison Government proposed a suite of law reforms to the residential aged care industry, including mandated care times and a requirement for 24-hour onsite registered nurses.

The Morrison Government lost the 2022 federal election before many of these reforms became law. What is the status of the residential aged care law reform agenda under the new Labor Government?

 

What Happens to Proposed Laws When a New Government Takes Office: A Quick Explainer

If a law has already gone through the full parliamentary process and commenced, a change of government won’t make a difference. But what if a proposed law is only partway through the process when there is a change of government?

In this situation, the proposed law (“Bill”) will effectively be cancelled, as if it had never come to the Parliament in the first place. If someone still wants the Bill to become a law, they will have to go back to square one and reintroduce the Bill as if for the first time.

This is what happened to the Royal Commission Reform Bill (officially called the “Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 2) Bill 2021 (Cth)”). If that Bill is to become law, it will have to be reintroduced. As at 7 June 2022, that has not happened. It will probably be reintroduced later in 2022, but some of the details will likely differ from the previous version.

 

Status of Key Reforms

Reform

Status

Comments

Funding: replacing ACFI with AN-ACC

Lapsed

This reform was part of the Royal Commission Response Bill No. 2. It will not happen unless a new Bill is introduced and passed.

However, the Department of Health is proceeding on the assumption that the AN-ACC funding model will start on 2 October 2022.

For more information, see the Department of Health’s video: Residential Aged Care Funding Reform – Transitioning from ACFI to AN-ACC and Care Minutes

Mandatory 200 minutes of care time per resident per day

Lapsed

TheMorrison Government’s plan was to introduce this new “care minutes standard” as part of the new AN-ACC funding model mentioned above.

This reform will not happen unless a new Bill is introduced and passed.

Labor says that it “will maintain the planned mandatory 200 care minutes date of October 2023” and will increase the requirement to “215 minutes per day, including 44 minutes with a registered nurse” from October 2024.

For more information, see the Department of Health’s fact sheet: What are care minutes?

Mandatory 24-hour registered nursing staff

Not yet proposed as a law

This was a recommendation from the Royal Commission that the Morrison Government did not put forward as a Bill.

This reform will not happen unless a Bill is introduced and passed.

Labor says “24/7 registered nurses will become required from July 2023.”

Nationally consistent pre-employment screening for aged care workers of approved providers to replace existing police checking obligations

Lapsed

This reform was part of the Royal Commission Response Bill No. 2. It will not happen unless a new Bill is introduced and passed.

It’s not clear if this reform will progress or what form it will take if it does.

New governance requirements, including a Code of Conduct

Lapsed

This reform was part of the Royal Commission Response Bill No. 2. It will not happen unless a new Bill is introduced and passed.

It’s not clear if this reform will progress or what form it will take if it does.

New reporting responsibilities for aged care providers, including to provide an annual statement on their operations that will be made publicly available

Lapsed

This reform was part of the Royal Commission Response Bill No. 2. It will not happen unless a new Bill is introduced and passed.

It’s not clear if this reform will progress or what form it will take if it does.

Pay rise for aged care workers

To be decided by the Fair Work Commission in July 2022

This reform is separate from the laws proposed by government. A case has been brought before the Fair Work Commission, which will decide on the appropriate pay rise (if any) for aged care workers.

Labor has promised to support the Fair Work Commission’s decision.

Voluntary assisted dying (VAD)

All Australian States have enacted VAD laws, although not all these laws have commenced

Most recently New South Wales enacted VAD laws that will commence in late 2023

There are no VAD laws in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory

These reforms were enacted by the state governments and were not affected by the federal election.

However, it was previous Australian Governments who prevented the two territories from enacting their own VAD laws. This could change under the new Labor Government.

For more information on VAD see Voluntary Assisted Dying Laws: May 2022 Update for Residential Aged Care Providers.

 

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About the Author

Mark Bryan

Mark is a Legal Content Consultant at 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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