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Background Paper 8: A History of Aged Care Reviews

Successive Australian governments have shown a lack of willingness to commit to change or to adopt recommendations from a multitude of reviews and inquiries into aged care over more than 20 years, according to the latest background paper produced for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Background Paper 8: A History of Aged Care Reviews, provides an overview of 18 major public reports and inquiries related to publicly-funded aged care in Australia since 1997, and looks at government responses to each of these.

"Responses often come years after the review and recount what has been done in an almost tangential way," the paper says.

"Changes committed to are often slow to eventuate, or fall away prior to implementation."

This is echoed in the question asked of the Commissioners by Uncle Brian Campbell on 11 October 2019 at the second Melbourne hearing.

"I've sat with the Royal Commission into deaths in custody. I've sat with the Bringing Them Home hearing; right? And out of all of them, hardly anything gets done, and is this one going to be the same?" he said.

The reviews and inquiries examined in the paper have addressed multiple aspects of the aged care system, including funding, workforce, the regulatory system, young people in residential aged care, palliative care, dementia care, and quality and safety.

It spans 18 previous reviews or inquiries since the introduction of major reforms to aged care in 1997 and includes reports by Parliamentary committees, the Productivity Commission, the Australian Law Reform Commission and other independent reviews commissioned by the Australian Government.

The Letters Patent for the Royal Commission direct the Commissioners to have regard to 'the findings and recommendations of previous relevant reports and inquiries'.

In conducting this review, the Background Paper finds:

"While governments have responded with ad hoc reforms to elements of the system, they have not been able to resolve the underlying problems with a system that has failed to provide the Australian community with the assurance of quality and safety in aged care that it expects."

This paper is part of a series of background papers the Office of the Royal Commission is issuing. Any views expressed in it are not necessarily the views of the Commissioners.

Background Paper 8 – A History of Aged Care Reviews

This background paper provides an overview of many of the major public reports and inquiries related to publicly-funded aged care in Australia since 1997, with a greater focus on the more recent of them. It deals primarily with official inquiries that generally involved submissions and evidence from the public and generated reports that are publicly available.