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Aged care watchdog seeks to restore trust

Independent from government, this new agency is now up and running.

  • News
  • Read Time: 4 mins

Australia’s first independent Office of the Inspector-General of Aged Care has opened for business. 

Former Council of the Ageing (COTA) chief executive Ian Yates will head up the new office while a permanent Inspector-General is recruited.

Mr Yates, a long-term seniors’ rights advocate, has been interim inspector-general since January 2023, but the office only officially opened in October.

He said the establishment of the office would allow systemic issues in aged care to be brought to light and ensure transparency and accountability in the system.

It will also ensure the effective management of complaints and restore trust and confidence in the aged care system, Mr Yates said.

He said opening the office “marks a new commitment to an accountable and transparent aged-care system".

“This … is a critical step forward in shaping an aged-care system that provides the care to which older people in Australia are entitled and should expect.”

The establishment of the office was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Coercive powers

By law, the office is independent of the Department of Health and Aged Care and all other agencies, and it has wide powers to investigate systemic issues across the aged care system, including complaints management.

The legislation states that this includes “coercive information gathering powers”, including powers to enter premises and compel a person to provide information or documents, or to answer questions.

However, the inspector-general will not have power to search and seize because it doesn’t have a regulatory or enforcement role.

The inspector-general is required to provide at least two annual reports on the implementation of the royal commission’s recommendations.

The commencement of the office comes after a report found “critical gaps” in the existing aged care regulator, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Related reading: Government News, Ageing Agenda 

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