Government missing in aged care action for 20 years: Royal Commission fails to tell us ‘how come?’

Article published 31 October 2019

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“The Aged Care Royal Commission’s Interim Report published today is very clear about the fact that successive Governments have done nothing to fix the very serious and grave problems afflicting aged care for well over twenty years, but the Interim Report fails to identify the reasons for Government inaction. While those reasons remain hidden, the problems in aged care cannot be resolved”, said CPSA Policy Manager Paul Versteege.

“A Royal Commission background paper lists 18 major aged care reviews (while skipping some major minor ones) and concludes: Despite all these reviews, and all of the Government responses, the underlying problems remain.

“A silent pact between the Government and the aged care industry is why the very well-known problems in aged care have not been addressed. In essence, the pact is that the Government will go soft on industry underperformance to keep costs down while ensuring adequate industry returns on investment for the industry. Government subsidies account for more than 75 per cent of industry revenue.

“The Government going soft on industry underperformance requires aged care standards that can be interpreted to suit the times. Governments put on a show of decisive action, as the current Government is doing now, and wait until public attention has waned to allow things slide. This keeps the long-term average cost of subsidising the aged care industry down.

“To destroy this silent pact between the Government and the aged care industry, we need aged care standards that allow performance to be objectively measured by an independent agency reporting to the Australian Parliament. This will cause a need for increased aged care funding, and that is a discussion and debate we can then have.

“For the Aged Care Royal Commission to forlornly scratch its head about how it is possible that twenty-odd years of reviews have caused nothing but Government inaction is simply not good enough and will ensure the Royal Commission adds its own investigation to the list in its own Background paper 8, a History of Aged Care Reviews without the need to change that paper’s conclusion: Despite all these reviews, and all of the Government responses, the underlying problems remain”, said Versteege.


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