Abuse Outrage Leads To Royal Commission Into Aged Care
Announcement comes after a string of cases of abuse of elderly people.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a royal commission into the aged care sector following appalling cases of abuse of elderly people.
The inquiry comes as the number of Australians moving into residential care is set to rise sharply as the nation's population ages.
"We are committed to providing older Australians with access to care that supports their dignity and recognises the contribution that they have made to society," Mr Morrison said in a statement.
The decision was triggered in part by the Oakden nursing home scandal in South Australia, which was closed a year ago.
The prime minister said he could no longer ignore the alarming number of aged care operators "flouting the law and putting lives at risk".
There was an 177 per cent increase in the number of aged care homes where a serious risk to residents was identified in the last financial year, according to new government figures.
There was a 292 per cent increase in the number of facilities that refused to comply with rules.
"Walking by these statistics was not possible," Mr Morrison said.
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The Oakden nursing home for elderly people was shut down last year following a damning report by South Australia's chief psychiatrist highlighting ongoing neglect and mistreatment of residents.
Mr Morrison said the government also needed to prepare for a major increase in demand on aged care as the baby boomers age.
Labor leader Bill Shorten, who has previously said there is a "national crisis" in aged care, said the probe was overdue.
He has stressed the need for the inquiry to look not just at individual cases of mistreatment but at "fundamental, systemic problems".
"It's got to be everything. Staff, training, funding - making sure people get the care that they deserve," he told ABC TV on Sunday.
Aged and Community Services Australia, which represents about 700 not-for-profit providers, has also welcomed the inquiry.
The majority of aged care is high quality but the royal commission will be a chance to have a "broader conversation" about what the community wants from aged care, chief executive Pat Sparrow said.
"This will give us an opportunity to talk about the quality of care that the community expects, and important things like how it is to be regulated and funded sustainably so that we can deliver the best quality care," she told Nine on Sunday.
The prime minister said Australia was a world leader in aged care, and most operators and carers were outstanding.
"But the best teams will always want to do better, and will always want to be honest about the performance of the sector as a whole."
The royal commission will also look into the challenge of caring for young people.