The Federal Government must act quickly to implement the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission to prevent further deaths, abuse and neglect in aged care homes, says Hunter based aged care lawyer and advocate Catherine Henry.
Ms Henry has worked on many cases in aged care over the past decade and is the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) national spokesperson on aged care.
“On balance, we welcome the recommendations delivered today by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety,” Ms Henry said.
“Our concern is that, based on its actions over recent years, the Government is not serious about aged care reform and will delay necessary action,” she said.
“Five years is too long to wait. An urgent response to the problems in the sector is required. Despite more than 30 reviews over the past 20 years we have not seen any evidence of an appetite for reform.”
A key recommendation in the Royal Commission’s report is the amendment of the Aged Care Act 1997.
“A new Aged Care Act is critical and we need to get this right but waiting for this legislation to be drafted cannot be an excuse to delay the implementation of other essential actions,” she said.
“A new Aged Care Act will replace the current legislation which was designed by providers for providers and has allowed profits to prevail over quality of care.
“Strong and robust regulation of the sector is one of the most important aspects of any reform process and it is a great shame that this is an area where the Commissioners could not agree – creating unnecessary uncertainty. This confusion could well be an excuse for government inaction.
“The regulatory system for aged care is a spectacular failure, and we need a new regime that delivers robust regulation, transparency of data, and a broad suite of legal avenues available to hold providers to account when they don’t meet expectations.
“The sector is in crisis and the Government must act urgently to implement these recommendations and put in place stronger regulation. There are still older Australians suffering and at risk in aged care facilities and those caring for them face an uphill battle to provide appropriate care.
Ms Henry said the Federal Government was quick to promise that it would implement the recommendations of the Financial Services Royal Commission. She said, two years on, and a majority of the reforms have been delayed and some have been abandoned completely.
“This is not acceptable and it will not be acceptable for the Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations to face similar delays. Older Australians deserve better.”
The ALA is a national association of lawyers, academics and other professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of the individual. Ms Henry is the principal of Catherine Henry Lawyers.
Catherine is available for interviews on March 2. Contact Craig Eardley on 0437477493 or Australian Lawyers Alliance Media Manager Karyn Lemon on 0419 496 591 or at email@example.com.