Aged care will be policed by a tough new cop from 2020 as the federal government moves to crack down on shocking cases of neglect and abuse in the sector.
Legislation cleared the Senate on Monday to establish the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which will regulate residential aged care services, home care services, flexible care services and publicly funded aged care services.
The bill will now return to the lower house to tick off amendments such as giving the commissioner powers to make information public about aged care services.
The commission will regulate provider approvals, quality and prudential compliance, and compulsory reporting from the Health Department.
Former acting chief executive of the Northern Territory’s Department of Health, Janet Anderson, will head up the new regulator.
Greens senator Rachel Siewert said she was pleased the government had changed the bill after she raised issues through a parliamentary committee.
But she remained concerned there was no reference to human rights in the legislation.
Under the amended bill, the commissioner will have to appoint a chief clinical advisor to help the agency.
She will also be able to make information about commonwealth-funded aged care services public, but the Greens failed in a bid for that to include staffing ratios.
“We know that staffing is a huge issue in the aged care sector and families and older Australians should be able to see what is on offer from providers and the skills and training they have,” Senator Siewert said.
Government minister Zed Seselja said the new commission would be the single point of contact for consumer and providers.
“The Australian population is ageing. Senior Australians and their loved ones deserve confidence that they and their loved ones are being properly cared for,” he told parliament.
Labor supported the bill, but criticised the government for having 121,000 people on the waiting list for home care packages.
The agency is in addition to a recently announced royal commission into the sector.