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The next steps for aged care: forging a clear path after the Royal Commission

Aged care quality and safety Government funding Aged care Australia

Major reform of Australia’s aged care system must start now. The final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has landed, declaring that fundamental change is needed to uphold the rights of older Australians.

Community expectations are high after two years of horrific stories exposing systemic failings that have persisted for decades. The Royal Commission called out successive governments for lack of leadership and inadequate funding. It highlighted perverse service and funding models, with weak accountability and an over-stretched, under-trained, and underpaid workforce. These conditions combine to create a system where thousands of older Australians miss out on care and one in three receive substandard care. This is unacceptable and cannot go on.

But unfortunately, the Royal Commission did not provide a clear roadmap to a better system. The final report was littered with disagreements between the two Commissioners.

The Government’s response to the Royal Commission report has not been promising so far. The Government must lift its ambition, and seize this opportunity to introduce landmark social policy reform fit to stand next to Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Aged care reform is more than a political challenge, it’s a moral imperative.

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Grattan Institute Report No. 2021-03