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Royal Commission – August Update

Written by Ilsa Bird, Sector Support Coordinator

Background Paper 6

On 26 July, Background Paper 6 was published by the Royal Commission. This paper is titled ‘Carers of Older Australians’ and provides an overview of the role and challenges faced by family and friends of older Australians who are identified as ‘informal’ or ‘unpaid’ carers.

Download the paper here: Background Paper 6 Carers of Older Australians

Earlier, more preventative intervention to help carers is a matter of common humanity and it also likely sustains the caring relationship which is of benefit to the system” –  Mr Peter Gray, Counsel Assisting

During July, the Royal Commission held public hearings in Mildura, Darwin and Cairns.

Mildura Hearing

The Mildura hearing was held from 29-31 July 2019 and looked at the needs of family, informal and unpaid carers for older Australians, with a focus on:

  • the extent to which current arrangements meet those needs
  • how services and supports for carers could be improved
  • respite care

Mildura Hearing Summary

On the final day of the Mildura Hearing, Mr Peter Gray, Counsel Assisting, summarised seven key themes.

  1. pathways, information and navigation for carers
  2. the disconnection or potential disconnection between the carer system and the aged care system in delivering effective support services to carers
  3. assessment of carer needs in the aged care system
  4. the policy setting behind respite and the need for a reorientation of respite to a more preventative and reabling design
  5. aged care subsidy program defects and distortions when it comes to delivering 25 care that will sustain the informal caring relationship, especially regarding the home care package program
  6. the distortion of incentives regarding the funding model design for residential respite care
  7. distortions in the system regarding other more flexible forms of respite that might support a more preventative reabling approach such as short-term and regular cottage respite.


Darwin and Cairns Hearing

The Darwin and Cairns hearing was held from 8-12 July 2019 to inquire into access to aged care and clinical care with a focus on:

  • Aspects of care in residential, home and flexible aged care programs, including:
    1. Accessibility and availability
    2. Wound, medication and pain management
    3. Nutrition and hydration
    4. Continence care
    5. Mobility
    6. Social supports
  • Rural and regional issues for service delivery in aged care
  • Quality of life for people receiving aged care

Darwin and Cairns Hearing Summary

Mr Peter Rozen summarised key themes regarding quality care in the two hearings including:

  • challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older people living in the Northern territory including the significant loss of quality of life being away from family and removed from Country.
  • the failure to meet the health and clinical needs of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in both residential and community care.
  • challenges for delivery of CHSP and HCP including delays in package provision and inflexibility of contractual agreements
  • the multidimensional nature of quality which includes safety, clinical and personal care as well as quality of life, cultural, socioeconomic and geographical factors.
  • significant evidence that quality care is not exemplified in Australian aged care
  • challenges regarding lack of quality care due to funding issues, lack of specialist and skilled workers in regional and remote locations
  • the lack of nutritious food in aged care facilities including evidence that some homes spend as little as $7 per resident per day.

The full transcripts and witness lists for the July hearings can be found here:


The next hearing will take place 5-9 August in Brisbane will focus on the regulation of aged care including:

  • regulation of quality and safety in aged care and how aspects of the current regulatory system operate
  • different approaches to regulation, including in other sectors
  • how regulation and oversight of quality and safety in aged care could be improved.