Office of Aged Care Inspector-General up and running

Australia’s first independent office of the aged care inspector general is officially up and running, charged with overseeing and improving the national aged care system.

Ian Yates

Long time seniors rights advocate Ian Yates will head the new office, which commences today after being established by proclamation, while a statutory Inspector-General of Aged Care is recruited.

Mr Yates has been interim inspector general since January.

He says the establishment of the office will allow systemic issues in aged care to be brought to light and ensure transparency and accountability in the system.

It will also ensure the effective management of complaints, and restore trust and confidence in the aged care system, Mr Yates says.

“Today marks a new commitment to an accountable and transparent aged care system with the commencement of the Office of the Inspector-General of Aged Care,” he said in a statement.

“This … is a critical step forward in shaping an aged care system that provides the care to which older people in Australia are entitled and should expect.”

The establishment of the office was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Coercive powers

The legislation gives the office full independence from the Department of Health and Aged Care and all other agencies, as well as wide powers to investigate systemic issues across the aged care system, including complaints management.

The legislation states that this includes ‘coercive information gathering powers’, including powers to enter premises and compel a person to provide information or documents, or to answer questions.

However, the inspector-general will not have power to search and seize as it doesn’t have a regulatory or enforcement role.

The inspector general is also required to provide at least two annual reports on the implementation of the royal commission’s recommendations.

The commencement of the office comes after a report by senior public servant David Tune released in July found ‘critical gaps’ in the existing aged care regulator, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

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