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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Elder abuse targeted under new scheme

A Serious Incident Response Scheme will be introduced by the Commonwealth Government to help protect vulnerable and senior Australians from abuse and neglect.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Richard Colbeck said an initial $23 million investment in the scheme would be rolled out from July 1 next year.

“The Federal Government continues to take huge steps towards the ongoing protection and welfare of vulnerable and senior Australians,” Senator Colbeck said. 

“Any abuse of a care recipient is unacceptable and that is why we committed to implementing a Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) for residential aged care in the 2019-20 Budget.”  

Senator Colbeck said the scheme would be an important measure to guarantee transparency while keeping older friends and family members safe.

It follows the release of findings of a prevalence study which provides a framework for the appropriate implementation of the scheme.

“The SIRS will drive quality and safety improvements at the individual service and broader system level,” said Senator Colbeck.

“As part of the scheme, residential aged care providers will be required to manage all incidents, with a focus on the safety and wellbeing of consumers and reducing preventable incidents from reoccurring.”

He said The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will receive incident reports and will have enhanced powers to administer the SIRS, including taking regulatory action where needed.

“Reporting under a SIRS will include a broader range of incidents, including neglect, psychological or emotional abuse and inappropriate physical or chemical restraint,” said Senator Colbeck.

“Significantly, it will also lift the current exemption on the reporting of resident on resident incidents, where the perpetrator has an assessed cognitive impairment.”

The reform was recommended in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Report Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response and the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes (Carnell-Paterson Review).

“The funding allows for the provision of a prevalence and feasibility study to inform future Government decisions on the potential introduction of a SIRS in home and community aged care,” the Minister said.

Additionally, the package includes funding to continue investigating the design, implementation and regulation of a worker register for aged care.

Senator Colbeck said the implementation of the scheme was another important measure toward reinforcing the sector.

“We understand there is still much work to do,” Minister Colbeck said. “Improving aged care for senior Australians continues to be one of the Morrison Government’s key priorities.”

Public consultation on the Aged Care Worker Regulation Scheme is now open. Submissions close on 29 June 2020.

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