The aged care system caters for older Australians who can no longer live without support in their own home. Care is provided in people’s homes, in the community and in residential aged care facilities (nursing homes) by a wide variety of providers. The Australian Government is the primary funder and regulator of the aged care system. Government expenditure on aged care services, largely by the Australian Government, was $18.4 billion in 2017–18.

The Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) and the associated Aged Care Principles set out the legislative framework for the funding and regulation of aged care, although services are also provided through contractual arrangements outside of the Act. The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is responsible for the operation of the Act.

This quick guide provides a brief overview of aged care in Australia. It describes the types of care provided, the people who use aged care, the process for accessing care, the organisations that provide care, and the regulatory arrangements for ensuring quality care. It does not describe care that is provided outside of the formal aged care system, such as care provided by family members or accommodation in retirement villages.

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