Labor Government’s Royal Commission Response Bill first to pass Parliament

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The Labor Government has removed the mandatory registration of aged care workers from its bill implementing the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, including the introduction of star ratings, the AN-ACC funding model, and a mandatory Code of Conduct.

The Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 was passed by Parliament on Wednesday, the first bill passed in the new Government’s term.

“We made a promise to Australians that we would take better care of their loved ones and the fact the first bill being passed through the 47th Parliament helps reform aged care shows how determined we are to improve the sector,” said the Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells.

Ms Wells introduced two separate pieces of legislation into the House of Representatives last Wednesday morning: the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 and the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022, containing many of Labor’s election promises for the sector.

The first bill implements 14 recommendations of the Royal Commission on measures including new residential funding, a Code of Conduct for facility staff, an Independent Pricing Authority, star ratings system and more oversight of providers and stronger governance.

A similar bill, with one exception, was introduced by the former Coalition Government, but was not passed before the Federal Election after both sides of politics teamed up to block it.

The second bill would mandate Registered Nurses be on-site at aged care homes on a 24/7 basis from July next year, allow the Government to cap administration fees on Home Care Packages, and require aged care providers to publish spending figures on food, administration, nursing and profits.

Opposition Health spokesperson Anne Ruston (pictured) lambasted the Government’s decision to remove the mandatory registration of aged care workers from the bill.

Ms Ruston claimed the Government had “capitulated to the unions” by removing the schedule on worker screening.

But a Department of Health and Aged Care spokesperson said the Government remained committed to a “comprehensive and robust” national registration scheme for personal care workers with ongoing training, English proficiency requirements and criminal history screening “to further professionalise the workforce”.

“We have listened and heard directly from the sector who support us and they want us to take the time to get this right,” said a spokesman.

“The Government intends to implement a comprehensive and robust national registration scheme for personal care workers, consistent with Recommendation 77 of the Royal Commission.”