Strong support for rights-based Aged Care Act
Older Australians and those close to them have emphasised the importance of a new Aged Care Act that prioritises human rights. Their views formed part of a recent submission to the Australian Government by 13 organisations that had conducted a joint enquiry into the foundations of the Aged Care Act based on direct information from older Australians and other key stakeholders.
As part of its commitment to implementing the Royal Commission recommendation to develop a rights-based Aged Care Act, the government has been consulting widely on what this new Act should look like.
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow said that centring the voices of older Australians in discussions about the future of our aged care system was crucial.
“For too long, older Australians, whether due to systemic ageism or other factors, have not been given ownership of their lives when the time comes for them to access aged care. It’s time that changed,” Sparrow said.
“The overwhelming majority of older people who attended our consultations support a new rights-based Aged Care Act — and they want us to get on with it,” said Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) CEO Craig Gear OAM.
“A significant number of older people also told us that the Act won’t be worth the paper it is written on if it isn’t supported by the necessary regulatory levers and enforcement pathways.”
The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) Chief Executive Officer Mary Ann Baquero Geronimo said a new rights-based Aged Care Act would be critical to an aged care system that reflects multicultural Australia and embeds diversity at the core of its practices.
“Older persons from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds aspire for an aged care system that supports them to maintain their cultural heritages, ensures that they are free from discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, religion or their need for language support, and allows them to take action if their rights are violated,” she said.
Carers Australia CEO Jane Bacot-Kilpatrick emphasised that aged care reforms must also be carer inclusive. “It is essential the rights of older people and their carers be included in the new Aged Care Act and the sustainability of funding for high-quality aged care services is achieved.
“Australia’s family and friend carers are a core axis of the aged care triangle along with consumers and service providers, and they are key to the economic sustainability of system,” she said.
Based on its findings, the joint submission recommended the implementation of mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing the rights of older people, including a change culture implementation plan to outline how rights will be embedded into daily aged care operations.
The submission emphasised that a future complaints system must be person-centred, robust and effective, with alternative ways of handling complaints, and overseen by a statutory Complaints Commissioner. It stressed that supported decision-making must be the foundation of decision-making in aged care, with an assumption that older people can make decisions for themselves.
Signatories to the submission included the Association of Independent Retirees (AIR); Carers Australia; Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia; Dementia Australia; Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA); Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia; Legacy; LGBTIQ + Health Australia; National Seniors Australia; Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN); National Association of People With HIV Australia; Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC) Alliance; and The Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL).
To download the submission, visit www.cota.org.au/submissions.
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