I participated in a Senate Inquiry into the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 and proposed several changes to help strengthen the Bill.
This is an important Bill. First and foremost, it establishes the 24/7 registered nurse requirement, which we know will help deliver the higher standard of care for older Australians envisioned by the Royal Commission.
Through the Senate Committee process, we read through each submission. What we saw was significant concerns with the powers the Government was giving itself to grant aged care providers with exemptions from the 24/7 RN requirement.
Stakeholders, from the Older Persons Advocacy Network to the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation were clear: there should be clear safeguards to these powers, and that the safety of older Australians should be taken into account when an exemption is being made.
We completed a dissenting report and I was able to work with the Minister for Aged Care, the Hon. Anika Wells MP, to deliver a series of changes to the Bill:
- All exemptions must now be time-limited and therefore the subject of regular review.
- The Government must now review the care arrangements that will be in place for aged care residents in the temporary absence of a 24/7 RN.
- All exemptions must be published publicly, in full view of aged care residents, their families and aged care watchdogs.
I thank Minister Wells for being open to collaborating with me on this Bill. As she said herself in Parliament this week, it’s important that we get the rules right on the first go. I look forward to supporting the Bill when it reaches the Senate.