Older Australians and those close to them want human rights embedded in a new Aged Care Act. This is the major thrust of a joint submission to the Federal Government, on behalf of 13 peak organisations representing older people and carers.
National Seniors Australia has been working to shape feedback to government, contributing to the development of a joint submission and pushing for a human rights focus.
As National Seniors Chief Operating Officer Chris Grice has said, “Creating an Aged Care Act and system explicitly built on a human-rights approach will empower older people to expect and claim quality, safe care as their right.”
Importantly, the submission was based on direct information gathered from older Australians and other stakeholders and presents several key findings to the Federal Government.
The submission calls on government to develop mechanisms to monitor and enforce the rights of older people.
It also calls for an implementation plan to outline how rights will be embedded into daily aged-care operations to ensure it works in practice to protect older people.
As Craig Gear, CEO of Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) has noted, “A significant number of older people also told us that the Act won’t be worth the paper it is written on if it isn’t supported by the necessary regulatory levers and enforcement pathways.”
The submission wants the Federal Government to ensure any future complaints system is person-centred, robust, and effective, with alternative ways of handling complaints, overseen by a statutory Complaints Commissioner.
It also recommends that supported decision-making be the foundation of decision-making in aged care, with an assumption that older people can make decisions for themselves.
As Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow has said, “For too long, older Australians, whether due to systemic ageism or other factors, have not been given ownership of their lives when the time comes for them to access aged care. It’s time that changed.”
But as CEO of Carers Australia Jane Bacot-Kilpatrick has argued, it’s not just people receiving care. She has called for the new Act to be “carer inclusive” to ensure family and friends helping older people are adequately recognised and supported.
In supporting the submission, Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) CEO Mary Ann Baquero Geronimo has also raised the importance of reflecting Australia’s cultural diversity, calling for “an aged care system that reflects multicultural Australia and embeds diversity at the core of its practices”.
As the government continues the long process of rewriting the Act, National Seniors and other peak body organisations will continue to advocate for a better aged care system for you.
Signatory organisations include Association of Independent Retirees, Carers Australia, Council on the Ageing Australia, Dementia Australia, Elder Abuse Action Australia, Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, Legacy, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, National Seniors Australia, Older Persons Advocacy Network, National Association of People with HIV Australia, Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care Alliance, and the Returned and Services League of Australia.