Australia’s Royal Commission into the Aged Care Quality and Safety

There is a need to look deeper into the aged care in Melbourne.  That is why the Australian government announced a Royal Commission into the Aged Care Quality and Safety. This was established by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

Appointed as Royal Commissioners are The Honourable Tony Pagone QC and Ms. Lynelle Briggs AO

This was formally announced last September 16, 2018. It officially started last October 8, 2018. The final report should come out by February 26, 2021. 

What is a Royal Commission? 

Before we talk about in detail the aged care sector, let us understand what a Royal Commission is. 

In Australia, a royal commission is a form of a public inquiry. Royal Commissions are considered to be the highest form of inquiry on important public matters.

The Royal Commission gathers information to assist with an inquiry through broad or special powers. It can summon witnesses to appear in courts to produce the evidence needed for the inquiry.

What is the Purpose of the Royal Commission into the Aged Care Quality and Safety? 

The Royal Commission looks into the quality and safety of both residential and in-home aged care. It also aims to look deeper into the care even for younger people with disabilities living in aged care homes.

The commission covers the extent of services to check if it meets the needs of these people. It also sees if there are any forms of maltreatment, abuse, or other forms of giving substandard care. Causes of systemic failures and responses to such actions will also be delved into. 

The Royal Commission also aims to uncover how to provide the best services to people in aged care homes. They may be older or younger people who have disabilities or dementia. 

The commission also looks into how to give more control over choices relating to the needed care. It aims to improve the relationship and engagement with the families and care-givers. 

It is important that the government understands what it can do to help the aged care sector. The government develops ways to have sustainable means in delivering care. These are through use of innovation, technology, and capital investment. 

The royal commission also studies the challenges faced by the sector. From these challenges, the commission finds the opportunities to address these. The aim is to deliver affordable yet high-quality accessible care.  This is normally seen in the context of a person’s demographics and preferences. For example, an aged person may want to stay in-home care or his own home.  It also includes the remote, rural, and regional parts of Australia.

Also, given the pandemic COVID-19 situation, Australia aims to learn from such situations. The government then endeavors to study how to better deal with such scenarios like emergencies and outbreaks. 

Royal Commission Submissions

The Royal Commission needs information relevant to the inquiry it is studying. To aid in this, submission of the statement should be given.  Other languages can be used to submit and not just English.  The submission can be published elsewhere after giving it to the Royal Commission.

Royal Commission Witnesses

The identity of the witness is protected for his/her safety. The person will not be broadcasted. The names may also be withheld or suppressed from transcripts. If the witness cannot go to the hearing due to ability issues, he/she can provide a video link appearance closer to his/her residence.

Also, the Royal Commission has a counselor. The counselor can be available during hearings. The witnesses can talk to the counselors if required.

Royal Commission Hearings

To know more about the hearings, a person can subscribe to the mailing list of the Royal Commission. They can also check out the list of hearings on the website. The dates and topics for study are normally announced one month before the schedule. The hearing for the Royal Commission is similar to a court.

Should you wish to see or listen to the actual hearings, these can be seen via their webcast. Previous hearings can be seen on replay through the portal. You can also see the transcripts on the website. 

Royal Commission Workshops

The hearings are also done like a workshop. The aim is to gather evidence in a less formal environment compared to the public hearings in 2019. These workshops test propositions and ideas. The witnesses focus on a certain topic per workshop. 

Royal Commission Community Forum

The community forum allows the members to hear about the work of the Royal Commission first. The forum is also a venue to give ideas and suggestions on how to improve the aged care sector’s quality of service. These forums serve as a venue for members to interact with the Royal Commission less formally. This is versus a formal public hearing or submission.

Individual Disputes or Complaints

The Royal Commission is not the venue to fix individual disputes. It is not a venue to resolve two parties’ complaints. For example, it cannot order a company or a care-giver to take action or pay compensation.  The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission can also assist in such situations.

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