Lisa Backhouse calls for criminal penalties for aged care boards (and staff)

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The Royal Commission into Aged Care is moving forward with a strategy that operators should be paying very close attention to.

It has been another ugly week with junior and senior staff, as well as boards, having no excuses for reprehensible performance.

And the 55 staff executing the Royal Commission have a clear understanding of where they are taking the Commissioners and the Australian public.

Witness this statement by Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Rozen QC in his examination of the staff of MiCare (formerly DutchCare)’s Avondrust Lodge home in Carrum Downs, Victoria.

“The series of events raises important questions about the effectiveness of the regulatory regime for aged care,” Mr Rozen forewarned. “That issue will be explored in the hearings of the Royal Commission in Brisbane in early August of this year. The circumstances of this case study may well be revisited at that time.”

They have a plan and it is potentially brutal. My colleague, Lauren Broomham, who attends every Royal Commission session and writes our The Daily COMMISSION newsletter, reminded me that the Banking Royal Commission issued its initial report, just as our Royal Commission will in September, and went hard on witnesses it had identified as deserving of detailed inspection.

Be prepared for the same with the Aged Care Royal Commission.

Especially when the Commissioners have made the significant point in proceedings of asking “Where are the proactive recommendations from aged care operators – why have they not been contributing to the discussion?” A dangerous attitude being expressed.








The witness statement by Lisa Backhouse, a daughter of an aged care resident and an experienced journalist, had the Commissioners spellbound this last week. From the quotes at the top of the story, you will see she powerfully called for criminal charges for board members (and staff) who allowed harm to occur.

Then on Thursday we had Earle Haven which enraged the new Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Richard Colbeck, who will receive that interim and final report.

Also remember that on the Sunday morning of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s election win, he told his local newspaper that aged care was in his top three priorities ‘to fix’.

LASA CEO Sean Rooney came out this week saying, basically, we must start again with the aged care sector. He has been a lone voice.

Our message: beware complacency. If you read The Daily COMMISSION every day you will appreciate there is an undercurrent taking place where aged care operators may lose any voice in the sector’s future with great ramifications.


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