Australia must be ready for some “difficult stories” but Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the aged care royal commission will rebuild trust in the sector.
West Australian Supreme Court judge Joseph McGrath and former Australian Public Service Commissioner Lynelle Briggs have been appointed as the royal commissioners.
They will release an interim report into the aged care sector on October 31 next year, with a final report due on April 30, 2020.
“I think the country is going to have to brace itself for some difficult stories, some difficult circumstances, some difficult experiences,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
“But that’s part of the process of this royal commission, to confront these stories honestly.
“To confront them in a way that helps us learn, to ensure they are not repeated in the future.”
He promised a “future-focused” royal commission that will learn from the mistakes of the past, and instil a national “culture of respect” towards elderly people.
“The royal commission will be the first step in re-establishing the trust that loved ones will be treated with dignity and with respect,” Mr Morrison said.
The inquiry will be based in Adelaide, where shocking abuse of residents in the state government-run Oakden nursing home was first uncovered.
It will also undertake hearings around the country, and will take evidence via video.
More than 5100 people contacted the government about the terms of reference, which were released on Tuesday.
The terms require the commissioners to look at the extent of below-par aged care, and how to improve services for disabled residents, including young people.
The royal commission will also look at dealing with dementia, people who want to live at home, and a sustainable funding model for care and facilities.
Mr Morrison said he expected the royal commission would be finished within its time limit.
“(But) if more time is needed and is requested, more time is always given,” he said.
Labor aged care spokeswoman Julie Collins supported the choice of commissioners but said the government can’t wait to fix aged care issues until after the commission is finished.
“When the government knows things are wrong today, it should fix them today, it should not wait until 2020,” she said.
Justice McGrath was appointed to the WA Supreme Court in November 2016, having held leadership roles in state and commonwealth prosecutors’ offices.
Ms Briggs was CEO of Medicare Australia and served as the APS boss for five years.