In October 2018, after a shocking two-part investigation by 4 Corners, the Commonwealth Government announced a Royal Commission into Aged Care in Australia.
It will look at:
- the quality of aged care services provided to Australians, including mistreatment and inadequate care;
- how best to deliver aged care to:
- people with disability residing in aged care facilities, including young people; and
- the increasing number of Australians living with dementia and other cognitive disability;
- the future of aged care in Australia, including:
- people living at home as they get older; and
- in remote, rural and regional Australia;
- what can be done to improve aged care services and make sure they are high quality and safe;
- how to ensure that aged care services allow people to exercise greater choice, control and independence, and engage better with families and carers;
- how to deliver aged care services in a way that can be maintained, including through new models of care, increased use of technology, and investment in the aged care workforce, facilities and systems;
- other related matters.
This is a plain language summary of what the Commission is investigating. The full terms are available on the Royal Commission website.
What is a Royal Commission?
A Royal Commission is a type of public inquiry. It’s started by the Government, but it’s conducted by people who are independent, in this case a former Federal Court judge and a former CEO of Medicare. Unlike many inquiries by Government, a Royal Commission is established by law that gives them special powers. They have the power to summon witnesses and authorise search warrant applications, and if witnesses don’t appear or give false evidence, there are penalties. For all of these reasons, they are known as the highest form of public inquiry.
How can people with disability contribute? What is PWDA doing?
The voices of people with disability are vital in this Royal Commission. Around half of older people, and over 96 per cent of people in aged care accommodation, are people with disability.
Older people have rights that are often not being upheld, and are sometimes being abused. Many of these rights are articulated under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In Australia, care of older people in institutions such as Aged Care homes, nursing homes is widespread .This form of care can make people more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. When our rights are violated and we are abused, neglected or subject to violence, this can result in harm and even death. No one deserves this – we all have the right to be safe and supported in our community, and to have choice about the type of care we receive.
The Royal Commission is already taking submissions and has not yet announced a deadline, but you will have at least until the end of September 2019. You can make a submission to the Royal Commission here.
You can also phone the Royal Commission on 1800 960 711 to make an alternative submission. Their website states that interpreter services are available.
PWDA will be making a submission, but first, we will be talking with our members and many people with disability about their experiences with aged care. Details will be posted on social media and this page as we have them.
If you are a person with disability, you can join PWDA to strengthen our collective voice.