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Aged Care Royal Commission Announced

Aged Care Royal Commission Announced

Posted 16th September 2018

People who have been concerned about the care and well being of frail elderly members of our community will welcome this news today. We look forward to positive outcomes from the Royal Commission into Aged Care.

What is a Royal Commission ?

A royal commission is a major formal and public inquiry into a defined issue in some monarchies. Royal Commissions have been held in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia.

A royal commission is similar in function to a "commission of enquiry" found in other countries such as Ireland, South Africa, and regions such as Hong Kong. It has considerable powers, generally greater even than those of a judge but restricted to the terms of reference of the commission.

The Royal Commission is created by the head of state (the sovereign, or his/her representative in the form of a governor-general or governor) on the advice of the government and formally appointed by letters patent. In practice, unlike lesser forms of inquiry, once a commission has started the government cannot stop it. Consequently, governments are usually very careful about framing the terms of reference and generally include in them a date by which the commission must finish.

Royal commissions are called to look into matters of great importance and usually controversy. These can be matters such as government structure, the treatment of minorities, events of considerable public concern or economic questions.

Many royal commissions last many years and, often, a different government is left to respond to the findings.

What Powers will the Aged Care Royal Commission have ?

A Royal Commission is a special investigation into important matters of public concern. The Royal Commission into aged care will be focusing on residential aged care and home care but will also cover care for young people with disabilities who live in aged care homes. The Commission will hold public hearings as part of its inquiry

What will be the Terms of Reference ?

The terms of reference define the scope of the Royal Commission and have not yet been finalised by the Commission, who we understand is currently consulting with all relevant stakeholders (i.e. residents, their families and aged care providers). However, more broadly, Scott Morrison indicated the expected scope of the Royal Commission will include:

  • The quality of care provided to older Australians, and the extent of substandard care;
  • The challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities;
  • The challenge of supporting the increasing number of Australians suffering from dementia and addressing their needs as they age;
  • The future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged care services in the context of changing demographics, including remote, rural and regional Australia; and
  • Any other matters that the Royal Commission considers necessary.

What will be the likely Outcome of the Royal Commission?

After the Royal Commission concludes the public hearings, it can make a range of recommendations, for example in relation to legislative and policy reforms. The Royal Commission may also, if circumstances warrant, refer a person or organisation to a regulatory or prosecuting body. Subject to the outcome of the Royal Commission there is also a strong possibility that the hearings and subsequent findings/recommendations may adversely impact on the reputation of organisations in the sector. For this reason legal firms recommend that organisations consider engaging business/PR consultants to manage any potential reputational damage.

Courtesy: Julie McStay - Hynes Lawyers - Royal Commission Aged Care - Terms of Reference and Outcome Analysis