Shergold to chair aged care sector reform committee

Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield has named Professor Peter Shergold as chair of the new Aged Care Sector Committee, which will work with the Federal Government as it implements aged care reforms, including red tape reduction.

It will be responsible for developing the ‘Aged Care Sector Statement of Principles’, which replaces the ‘five-year aged care agreement’ often referred to by then shadow aged care minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

The committee, which consists of heads of provider, carer and consumer peaks, and unions, replaces the abolished independent Aged Care Reform Implementation Council, which was also chaired by Prof Shergold. The council was disbanded along with the Ageing Expert Advisory Committee in January 2014 to “avoid duplication of roles and responsibilities” with the new committee, a spokesperson for Senator Fifield said.

The council was set up to independently monitor rather than provide an avenue of representation for providers and consumers, whereas the committee is made up of aged care provider and consumer representatives and an independent chair, and has a greater focus on red tape reduction and further reform, the spokesperson said.

Prof Shergold, who is chancellor of University of Western Sydney, will provide strong leadership for the important work of this committee, Senator Fifield said in a statement announcing the appointment.

The committee will provide guidance to help the aged care sector adapt to the new demands and a greater consumer focus, an important conduit to the government and advice including practical steps that can be taken to reduce administrative burden and compliance costs, he said.

In addition to outlining how government and the aged care sector progress reforms, Senator Fifield said the statement of principles would reflect ongoing monitoring and how the Productivity Commission’s recommendations were considered in the five-year review of the reforms.

A date for the committee’s first meeting is yet to be set but the statement of principles will be completed in the second half of 2014, a spokesperson for Senator Fifield said.

Stakeholder response

Committee member and Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Adj Prof John Kelly said he was looking forward to working with Prof Shergold and the other committee members. “There are many challenges ahead in aged care and ACSA is delighted to have a seat at the table,” he said.

Fellow committee member and COTA chief executive Ian Yates, said while the committee was not a substitute for the National Aged Care Alliance, it was a small enough group to be able to undertake “some fairly intensive work.”

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said the announcement was timely as the committee had important and immediate responsibilities to address. “We are encouraged by the strong not-for-profit and consumer representation on this new committee, and feel those voices will be most valuable in guiding the direction of the aged care reform process,” Ms Chambers said.

Similarly, RSL Care CEO Craig Mills welcomed the new committee as a positive step for providers in a sector going through a period of rapid change. He said it was evidence the government was serious about addressing the issues facing both aged care providers and consumers.

Shadow minister for ageing Shayne Neumann said the federal opposition also welcomed the announcement of the new committee but he criticised the government for taking six months to establish it and for only including one union representative. In addition to Lee Thomas from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Mr Neuman said he would liked to have seen a representative from United Voice on behalf of the many aged care workers who are not nursing staff.

Many of the committee members met with government in February to discuss how the $1.1 billion Worforce Supplement money would be redistributed.

Aged Care Sector Committee
•Professor Peter Shergold AC (Chair), University of Western Sydney
•Adjunct Professor John Kelly, CEO, Aged and Community Services Australia
•Patrick Reid, CEO, Leading Age Services Australia
•Ian Yates, chief executive, Council on the Ageing
•Lee Thomas, federal secretary, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
•Michael O’Neill, chief executive, National Seniors Australia
•Lin Hatfield Dodds, national director, UnitingCare Australia
•Martin Laverty, CEO, Catholic Health Australia
•Glenn Rees, CEO, Alzheimer’s Australia
•Ara Cresswell, CEO, Carers Australia
•Netty Horton, territorial social programme director, Salvation Army
•Gary Barnier, managing director, Domain Principal Group
•Louis Dudley, managing director, Bupa
•Lynda O’Grady, chair, Aged Care Financing Authority

This article was originally published in Australian Ageing Agenda.

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2 thoughts on “Shergold to chair aged care sector reform committee

  1. Any initiative that will reduce duplication/fragmentation of aged care must be welcomed as a significant step forward for both providers and receptors.

  2. Sounding better….although I think representation from senior aged care clinical nursing is vital for decision making for government, providers and consumers and not just union/workforce representation. I look forward to the statement of principles.

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