Not Quite the Registration Scheme the Aged Care Royal Commission Recommended for Personal Care Workers

Cut out paper people in a pair of hands

The Australian Government’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has accepted most of the recommendations in the Commisison’s final report delivered in March this year.

Last night’s budget and supporting measures forecast that changes are afoot, with a promised review of the Aged Care Quality Standards to consider “appropriate regulatory levers to require providers to ensure staff are appropriately trained.”

Recommendation 77

Back in March, 2021 the Aged Care Royal Commission delivered its final report into the Australian Aged Care system and recommended a registration scheme for the personal care workforce that was to include:

  • a mandatory minimum qualification of a Certificate III
  • ongoing training requirements
  • minimum levels of English language proficiency
  • criminal history screening requirements
  • a code of conduct and power for a registering body to investigate complaints into breaches of the Code of Conduct and take appropriate disciplinary action.

Commissioner Briggs additionally recommended that the government consider whether registration should be established under the National Registration & Accreditation Scheme (“NRAS”).

Government Response

Although the government has accepted Recommendation 77 “in principle”, it has determined not to establish the scheme under the NRAS due to concerns that the “NRAS requirements would be disproportionately burdensome for personal care workers and present a significant ongoing cost.”[1]

Nevertheless, it has agreed:

  • to establish a single care and support sector code of conduct (Code) across the aged care, veterans’ care and disability support sectors for implementation by 1 July 2022; and
  • to deliver a nationally-consistent centralised pre-employment screening check with a register of cleared and excluded workers, in the aged and veterans’ care sectors, commencing 1 July 2022.

To that end, the government has included, in its latest budget, provision of $105.6 million to introduce the code of conduct, screening check and register.[2]

Workforce Development

The government additionally accepted:

  • Recommendation 80 – Dementia and palliative training for all workers; and
  • Recommendation 81- Ongoing professional development for the aged care workforce.

It has indicated that it will respond to aged care workforce development needs through its Growing a skilled, high-quality workforce to care for older Australians measure and will invest $338.5 million over 3 years “to grow, train and upskill the aged care workforce to drive improvements to the safety and quality of care”.[3]

So, the clock is now ticking and there is just a little over twelve months to see what the changes will mean for recruitment and staffing services in the agency sector.

Andrew C. Wood

[1] Australian Government Response to the Final Report of the Royal Commission I=into Aged Care Quality and Safety (11 May 2021) at p.51. accessed 12 May 2021.

[2] Budget Paper No. 2, Budget Measures 2021-22 (11 May 2021) at p.125. accessed 12 May 2021.

[3]Workforce (Pillar 4 of the Royal Commission response) – Growing a skilled and high quality workforce to care for senior Australians (11 May 2021) accessed 12 May 2021.

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