Eldercare Law
No items found.

Major changes to aged care

Reforms to the aged care industry are set to be introduced later this year with no confirmed date set as at the date of publication.

The reforms will include a new Aged Care Act (the new Act)which will be a “rights-based” Act and aims to respond to many of the issues facing older people, aged care providers, workers and the broader sector.

The new Act purports to:

- outline the rights of older people who are seeking and accessing aged care services;

- create a single entry point with clear eligibility requirements;

- include a fair, culturally safe single assessment framework;

- support the delivery of aged care services;

- establish new system oversight and accountability arrangements;

- increase provider accountability through a new regulatory model; and

- strengthen the aged care regulator.

The new Act hopes to introduce a “Statement of Rights” outlining the rights that older people in the aged care system should expect when seeking or accessing Government-funded aged care services. The stated intent is to keep the needs of older people at the centre of the new system.


- The new Act aims to improve the way services are delivered to older people in:

their homes;

- community settings; and

- approved residential aged care homes.

Aged Care Providers

The new Act proposes to enforce the obligations of providers and the aged care workforce so that the industry can better protect, empower and care for the elderly by:

streamlining obligations and registration requirements;

- a Code of Conduct for Aged Care;

- strengthened Aged Care Quality and Financial Standards; and

- a commitment to continuous improvement towards high-quality care.

 It will be interesting to assess next year whether the changes have been effective.


The Act and associated legislation has been prompted by the 2021 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (the Commission) which expressed concerns that the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) was too focused around the funding and structure of aged care providers.

The Commission proposed that a new Aged Care Act (new Act)should introduce a rights-based, “person-centred" approach that focuses on the elderly and their individual rights and needs.  This is reflected in the proposed “Purpose Statement”, which states that the new Act will “facilitate access by older people to quality and safe, funded aged care services based on their individual needs, with the aim of assisting them to continue to live active, self-determined and meaningful lives as they age.”[1]

Statement of Rights

The new Act includes a Statement of Rights which “recognises that older people have the right to exercise choice and make decisions that affect their lives…(including) their quality of life, their social participation and intimate relationships”.[2]

It also refers to such rights as communicating in a preferred language or method, freedom from forms of degrading or inhumane treatment and respect for personal privacy.[3] It is the hope that this approach will equip and empower the elderly to exercise their rights and their voice, and to be supported to make decisions where necessary.

The Act provides new obligations for providers and workers and expands the powers of the regulators. Further, the new Act better holds aged care providers accountable to their obligations under the Act. Providers will now have to deliver services in a manner consistent with the Statement of Rights and are obligated to have practices in place which ensure their commitment to continual improvement in their services. [4]

 New Standards

The Commission also found that the existing Standards did not motivate or empower providers to achieve a high quality of care and outcomes for older people. Rather, they only outlined the minimum acceptable standards for accreditation. The final draft of the new Standards is centred around seven standards, namely:

the person, the organisation, the care and services, the environment, clinical care, food and nutrition and the residential community.  

Standard 1, the person, underpins every other standard and includes the statement, “I am valued and have choice over the life I lead”.[5]

New Model

All providers are now required to be registered through a new provider registration model and registration is expected to last three years. Instead of the current “one size fits all” system, the new Regulatory Model takes a risk-proportionate approach which means lower risk services (such as meal delivery services) will have fewer obligations than higher risk services such as residential care.[6]  

The Model will also outline, amongst other things, the quality and safety expected in delivering aged care services, the obligations of providers and a consistent way for stakeholders and participants to provide feedback.[7]  As the Commission emphasised, “regulation should seek to prevent harm to people receiving aged care service and ensure that instances of substandard care are detected and addressed.”[8]

The new Act will be introduced to Parliament in late 2024,with a further amendment Bill introduced to establish the Support at Home program to start in 2025.

 If you would like to know more about the proposed reforms or about your rights as an individual or aged care provider, please contact our Elder Care Legal Team on 9870 9870.


[1] Amy Laffan, “Foundations of the new Aged Care Act”, 10 August 2023, https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-08/foundations-of-the-new-aged-care-act---slides.pdf

[2] Department of Health and Aged Care, “New Aged Care Act: Statement of Rights”, accessed 29 April 2024, https://www.agedcareengagement.health.gov.au/images/agedcareact/aca/FACT_SHEET_02.pdf

[3] Ibid, 3.  

[4] Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, “Strengthened Quality Standards: framework analysis”, January 2024, https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/sites/default/files/media/ssbac-strengthened-quality-standards-framework-analysis-v15.pdf

[5] Department of Health and Aged Care, “Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards: final draft November 2023”, https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-12/the-strengthened-aged-care-quality-standards-final-draft-november-2023.pdf  

[6] Mark Bryan, “The Three “Mega Reforms” Coming to the Aged Care Industry in 2024”, 23 January 2024, https://www.agedcareessentials.com.au/news/the-three-mega-reforms-coming-to-the-aged-care-industry-in-2024#:~:text=The%20Regulatory%20Model,-According%20to%20the&text=%E2%80%9CIneffective%20regulation%20has%20been%20one,care%20are%20detected%20and%20addressed.%E2%80%9D

[7] Department of Health and Aged Care, “About the new aged care regulatory model”, 19 April 2024, https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/new-model-for-regulating-aged-care/about-the-model

[8] Department of Health and Aged Care, “A new model for regulating Aged Care: Summary, Consultation Paper no.2”, April 2023, https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-04/dt0003551-re-aged-care-proposed_new_model-summary_final1.pdf

Related Articles

View more