ACSA and LASA commit to form new single peak body ahead of KPMG report

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The aged care sector appears one step closer to forming a single representative voice after the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) announced on Monday that its two key members have committed to establishing a new entity.

As we reported in October, the AACC – which includes Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia (BCA), Catholic Health Australia (CHA), Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and UnitingCare Australia (UCA) – has joined with the Aged Care Reform Network (ACRN), a combination of large private and Not For Profit operators, such as Allity, Bolton Clarke, Estia, HammondCare, Opal, Regis and Uniting NSW/ACT, to form a Steering Committee and commissioned KPMG to undertake an independent analysis of the best practice representation models.

In a joint statement, ACSA and LASA said that their respective boards had concluded that “maintaining the status quo for industry representation and development is not an option.”

“We therefore intend to work collaboratively with the Church Peaks and the Aged Care Reform Network to develop a new sector representation model that is inclusive of the whole aged care industry,” they said.

“Not a done deal yet”

ACSA CEO Paul Sadler told The Weekly SOURCE that the ACSA board approached LASA in view of the feedback being received from the steering committee that their members wanted a single peak body to represent the sector – and the two organisations are committed to following through on whatever model is proposed by the KPMG report.

“It’s not a done deal yet,” said Paul.

“The reality is it still has to be subject to a vote by both ACSA and LASA members. There is work that needs to happen to firm up whatever KPMG recommends like draft constitutions for the new entity, and clarity about exactly how voting arrangements will make up the board.”

ACSA and LASA said that they are now mobilising staff and resources ahead of KMPG’s final report, which was due before the end of the year.

Members are expected to vote by the end of March or early April, with the new body to be established as early as 1 July 2022, while LASA and ACSA to continue wrapping up their separate businesses.

Concerns of some Not For Profits to be addressed

If the two organisations move forward on the plan, it will mark a significant shift for the sector’s historically disparate representation.

LASA was established in 2012 after a failed attempt to bring together private and Not For Profit operators together under the ACSA umbrella as some Not For Profits saw a conflict in their mission and the commercial drivers of For Profits.

Paul acknowledges that there is a group of ACSA members that maintains these concerns – but says these will be addressed through the new constitution.

“We need to make sure that what we do going forward is transparent, inclusive and addresses concerns that members on all sides will have about how a new entity might be established,” he stated.

Other groups to join?

The ACSA CEO hopes that once KPMG delivers its formal report to the AACC, other groups may also want to become formally involved.

“Our sense is that this is very exciting,” said Paul. “The executives of ACSA and LASA met yesterday (Tuesday) to go through how we will manage business as usual and commence a transition process once we receive the KPMG report.”

It is certainly great news for the sector – with four years of rolling reforms ahead, a strong voice to advocate to Government and the community will be invaluable.

The ACSA and LASA Boards’ eight key principles and outcomes for a new sector representation model are:

  • Represent the whole of the aged care sector, including residential care, home care packages and Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) services, as well as related seniors’ housing/retirement village programs as required;
  • Advocate for a rich and essential diversity of service providers, especially those who serve vulnerable communities or the needs of specific groups or geographies within the Australian community;
  • Support diversity of specialist services and improved access to mainstream services across Regional, Rural and Remote, Culturally and Linguistic Diverse communities, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders, homeless, etc.;
  • Maximize one voice advocacy capacity by setting the aged care agenda proactively and responding effectively to Government Five Pillars reforms;
  • Maintain existing and establish new strong relationships with federal, state and territory governments, other provider peaks (e.g., CHSP, disability, health), consumer peaks, and existing (National Aged Care Alliance) or new sector alliances;
  • Minimize membership fees especially for smaller members through achieving efficiencies, while ensuring effectiveness, including by expanding core advocacy and member support and advice capacity (e.g., through additional research capacity);
  • Provide enhanced member support services such as training, events, consultancy, IR, payroll largely on a pay-as-you-go basis (allowing for member discounts or subsidisation of smaller organisations); and
  • Support and fund a structured transition program, which allows essential advocacy work via AACC and member support via ACSA & LASA to continue uninterrupted while any new model is established.