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Aged care reforms on their way

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Professor Peter Shergold has been named as chair for the new Aged Care Sector Committee, which will work with the Government to assist in implementing aged care reforms.

The Committee will be responsible for developing the Aged Care Sector Statement of principles which replaces the five year aged care agreement.

The Committee replaces the abolished independent Aged Care Reform Implementation Council which was previously chaired by Professor Shergold. The council was disbanded in January along with the Ageing Expert Advisory Committee to avoid duplication of roles and responsibilities.

Senator Mitch Fifield who announced the appointment said the Committee will provide guidance to help the aged care sector adapt to the new demands and a greater consumer focus.

“The Australian Government understands the need to work in partnership with the aged care sector and aged care consumers,” Mr Fifield said
“Committee members have been drawn from peak bodies representing providers across residential and home care; for profit and not for profit providers; consumers and workforce representatives”

The AMA was not invited to join the Committee, but AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton and AMA Queensland representative Dr Richard Kidd recently met with Senator Fifield to discuss key issues affecting appropriate care for older Australians. Dr Hambleton and Kidd discussed the ongoing access to medical care for residents of residential aged care facilities, community aged care services that cater for the medical needs of older Australians and carers of older Australians with Senator Fifield.

Senator Fifield said the committee will provide important advice, including identifying where to start the critical task of cutting red tape in aged care and practical steps that can be taken to reduce administrate burdens and compliance costs.

A date for the Committee’s first meeting is yet to be set but the statement of principles will be completed in the second half of 2014.

Shadow Minister for ageing Shayne Neumann welcomed the announcement of the new Committee but criticised the Government for taking six months to establish it and for only including one union representative.

Kirsty Waterford