The Australian Greens today welcomed the passage of aged care reform package through the Senate, with some key Greens amendments enhancing this process of substantial reform to Australia's aged care services.
"The Living Longer, Living Better legislation is an important step forward in ensuring quality care is accessible for all older Australians," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on ageing said today.
"Our amendments, along with the commitments that the Government has made in response to the very comprehensive committee inquiry, have improved the legislation.
"The Australian Greens have worked hard with people across the aged care sector in order to ensure that this legislation is as effective as possible in providing all Australians with the quality, accessible care they deserve in later life.
"Our amendments recognise the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) in the legislation as a specialised monitoring body, separate from the Department of Ageing, to undertake monitoring work with a view to ensuring the financial viability of the sector, and provide timely analysis and make recommendations to Government about how and when to implement transitional arrangements as needed.
"We cannot have quality care without a viable aged care sector, and this amendment helps ensure the sector strengthens over the coming years. This also addresses a key concern of aged care providers and I am proud the Greens have been able to deliver it.
"I am glad that the Government has also responded to our concerns with an upfront commitment to subsidise business advisory services to residential aged care providers that need assistance to implement the new accommodation payment system. We have also ensured that the powers of the Aged Care Commissioner are enshrined in legislation to ensure they powers necessary to undertake the role.
"Some groups in our society, such as homeless people, are severely disadvantaged when it comes to aged care. Experience with homelessness can result in people having specialised care needs and complex health issues, including those around mental health. To address this, the Greens have secured a funding commitment of $29 million over 4 years for a homelessness supplement, along with the fast-tracking of its implementation.
"I welcome the Government's moves to enshrine LGBTI people as a special needs category in legislation. This will ensure that there is a focus on addressing discrimination on the basis of sexuality in all training and planning aspects of aged care. I believe this is a group who also need legal protections from discrimination which is why the Greens particularly welcomed the amendment to this affect that passed earlier this week.
"The Greens have worked extensively on the issue of forced adoption policies and I am glad that those affected by these policies have also been recognised in this legislation. It is essential that those people in our community with specific needs are provided for and that staff and operators understand the importance of this.
"These reforms are an important step forward in ensuring quality care is accessible for all older Australians. The Greens will continue working hard to see the very best outcomes delivered," Senator Siewert concluded.