Health, Aged Care and Retirement Villages

Uncertainty over future of Aged Care Reform Bill No. 2

April 8, 2022

New laws aimed at delivering the second stage of aged care reform in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission’s final report have passed the Senate, but failed to pass the House of Representatives before the end of Parliamentary Sittings, leaving the future of the bill uncertain.

The Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 2) Bill 2021 (the Bill) passed the Senate on 30 March, after which it needed to be referred back to the House of Representatives to consider the amendments made by the Senate. While the Bill was returned to the House of Representatives on 31 March, the lower house ordered that the amendments be considered at the next sitting, which will not be until after the Federal Election.

The latest round of amendments introduced two additional significant changes: a requirement for a registered nurse to be on duty at all times in residential aged care facilities (subject to the application of a potential exemption for some services) and a requirement that the Department of Health make publicly available the aged care financial reports and general purpose financial statements of each approved provider for each financial year.

Reform timeline now in question

The Bill contains a number of key elements of the Government’s reform agenda, including the introduction of AN-ACC and new governance requirements.

The Bill proposes a new timetable for the reforms, some of which are proposed to commence as soon as 1 July 2022. Given Parliament is unlikely to sit again until July, further amendments will need to be made to this timetable and there is increasing uncertainty about the Government’s ability to introduce AN-ACC by 1 October 2022 as anticipated.

Where to from here?

We now wait to see what happens to the Bill when a new Parliament convenes following the election.

For more detail on the Bill’s background and the amendments, click here.

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