The Albanese Federal Government’s aged care reform bill was passed in the Senate on Thursday 27 October, and will now become law.
The Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 was passed despite some LNP senators attempting to introduce amendments – including for exemptions to the 24/7 RN requirement – that would have required the bill to go back to the House of Representatives, where it was previously passed on 7 September 2022.
Ultimately the bill passed without opposition and, along with the Albanese Government’s first amendment, the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission response) Act 2022, it will now become law nationally that aged care facilities:
- implement the mandated minimum 215 daily care minutes per day – this will include 44 minutes with a registered nurse and will include enrolled nurses and personal care workers.
- ensure that a registered nurse is on site 24/7.
The bill also contains amendments relating to capping home care charges and transparency of information that will be enshrined in law.
Speaking in favour of the bill at the reading, Victorian Senator Janet Rice (Greens), ACT Senator David Pocock (Independent) and Queensland Senator Murray Watt (ALP) all acknowledged and thanked the ANMF for its crucial advocacy and commitment on this issue.
‘I met just yesterday with a delegation of nurses who were here to advocate for this legislation,’ Senator Rice said. ‘I heard about their experiences of working in aged-care homes … The nurses I spoke with yesterday talked of just not having the time to do the work that needs to be done when they’re on the job. Clearly, increasing nursing staffing levels in aged-care homes is going to make a vital difference to people around the country, so it’s really important that we enable this framework to be established.’
Senator Pocock noted that ‘this is not the end of the road when it comes to reform’ and implored the government to ‘consider how we are training, recruiting and retaining highly skilled nurses in all corners of our health and aged-care systems’.