GPs sound alarm over aged care reform delays

Crucial reforms aimed at improving the quality of aged care in Australia look set to be delayed by up to 12 months, leaked documents show, and GPs are worried about the effects the delay will have.

Australia’s aged care recipients will most likely have to wait another year for recommendations from 2021’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to be implemented, internal department documents seen by 9News have revealed.

The changes include proposed alterations to standards for residents’ rights and quality of care and introduce the possibility of civil and criminal penalties for aged care staff and directors found to be breaking the new standards.

Originally slated to come into effect from 1 July, the documents show these changes are now listed as ‘TBC’, with a government spokesperson telling 9News they expect the changes to now come into effect in either January or July next year.

Why are the changes delayed?

Anika Wells, federal minister for aged care, said the government was taking feedback on the proposed changes and wanted to refine its draft legislation before putting it to a vote.

“We will update the commencement date of the legislation following these updates and before the bill is introduced to the parliament,” she said.

“The new act is an incredibly important milestone on the Albanese government’s mission to lift the standard of aged care in Australia and deliver a high-quality, person-centred service.”

Dr Khayyam Altaf, a residential aged care GP who oversees more than 100 patients, told newsGP delaying the reforms would have real impacts on patient outcomes.

“Any reform is long overdue, as the issues our elderly population are facing have been evident well before the royal commission recommendations,” he said.
“Although I understand the technical nature of forming legislation, this should be considered a priority as there are challenges that are being faced now and delaying legislation to protect our patients is going to have an immediate and ongoing impact.”

He says there is a pressing need to address ‘red tape’ in aged care facilities, particularly around hiring practices because doctors often find themselves carrying out administrative tasks.

“[This] ultimately leads to increased GP workload, taking time away from patient contact which is the most important aspect of healthcare provision,’ Dr Altaf said.

Dr Anthony Marinucci, chair of the aged-care-specific interest group at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), says the delay may actually allow for more robust debate on the bill’s contents.

But he did also caution that further delays to implementing the changes would impact GPs’ ability to “properly deliver the proposed care this new act is legislating”. In turn, he fears this will lead to an even higher turnover of GPs.

“I fear [this] will lead to even more GPs leaving aged care – a trend which is already well established,” he said.

Ms Wells defended the delay by highlighting her government’s record on aged care, saying it had already implemented the five aged care commitments it took to the last election.

“The Albanese government has already implemented its five aged care election commitments, including 24/7 nursing, a record $11.3 billion pay rise for aged care workers, and increased transparency,” she said.

“We have also addressed 69 royal commission recommendations and our work is having a tangible impact. Since the election of the Albanese government, older Australians are receiving an additional 2.16 million care minutes every single day.”

What changes would you like to see made in aged care? Do you think Australia cares for its elderly well enough? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: What to do if your parent is refusing aged care

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Well, what more could we expect from this government currently in power in Canberra.
    They are very quick to implement anything that brings in more revenue so as to boost their unrestrained spending sprees, but anything to do with the elderly, is put on the back burner, and not to be looked at until the run up to the next election, when another whole lot of broken promises will be made.

  2. Reduce the paperwork Registered nurses need to do to get funding. Increase amount of staff available to look after patients.
    Main issue is understaffing and fact nurses spend more time doing paperwork than being with residents.
    More nurses needed. It’s often unpredictable and emergency’s happen. Then No back up for the residents as nurses busy.
    Then they are incontinent and degraded and need more time to wash them than if could get to toilet.
    I used to work on aged care but couldn’t give residents time they needed. And constantly staffing was cut. So I left. Was too upsetting . And poor pay too.
    Cut the Govt mandated paperwork. Only medical paperwork should be done. And increase carers numbers

  3. Life experience is pretty much on the money.
    Postponing the Agedcare pay rise is appalling.
    The narrative of Agedcare to govt means money .
    The care element is just smokes and mirrors.
    Giving handouts to private companies in their green dream and denying Agedcare the funding that’s needed should be a sign to voters that their priorities are wrong.
    Labors new draft Agedcare funding model is even more complicated than the present system and is just cost shifting and full of social engineering.
    The only way to give our elderly what the deserve is extra funding by Govt and more invisibility in the Agedcare providers funding.
    My darling wife’s Alz 12 year journey,the last 4 years in Agedcare, is now over .
    As her carer I spent over 10 hours a day helping the Aged care home care for her.
    I am very dissapointed at the lack of visitation by family and friends to other Agedcare residents.
    Message to Govt is also
    PLEASE separate the Agedcare organisation from Centrelink
    Centrelink. Does not have the skillset to work through Agedcare issues.
    However the Financial advice group are just amazing.
    Stay safe.

  4. My first hand experience is that :

    An aged care home can horribly be in VIOLATION of ALL Aged Care Rights, and IN BREACH of ALL Aged Care Quality Standards, but with NO CONSEQUENCE WHATSOEVER.

    The regulation of Government-subsized aged care homes is a HUGE PROBLEM.

    I think a delay can be acceptable, if the outcome is ‘correct’.

  5. From what I have learned, currently decisions made by ACQSC ( Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission ) CANNOT be reviewed / challenged by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, NOR ANY Tribunal ( such as the AAT ), NOR ANY Court.


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