Establishment of the ACRC
The Royal Commission was established on 8 October 2018 by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).
The Honourable Richard Tracey AM RFD QC and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO have been appointed as Royal Commissioners. The Letters Patent for the Royal Commission, which formally appoint the Royal Commissioners, also outline the Royal Commission's terms of reference.
The Commissioners are required to provide an interim report by 31 October 2019, and a final report by 30 April 2020.
Terms of Reference
The Royal Commission will focus on Commonwealth funded residential aged care and home care for seniors (and where relevant, young people living in residential aged care). The inquiry will also cover care provided to young people with disabilities residing in residential aged care. The Royal Commission will not examine retirement villages or other forms of seniors living.
The Terms of Reference require the Royal Commission to examine:
- the quality and safety of aged care services by reference to a range of factors, such as dignity, choice and control, clinical care, end-of-life care;
- how best to deliver aged care services in a sustainable way including to residents (including younger residents) with a disability and those living with dementia, examples of good practice and innovative models of care; and
- the future challenges for delivering accessible, affordable and high quality services in the context of rapidly changing demographics and consumer preferences.
Service provider survey
As part of the commencement phase of the Royal Commission, approved providers under the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) were invited by the Commissioners to make an early written submission (via a detailed survey) to the Royal Commission in relation to each aged care service or outlet they operate. Submission requests were dealt with in two stages:
- by no later than Monday 7 January 2019 (for those larger providers that received a letter dated 23 November 2018); and
- by Friday 8 February 2019 for all other providers.
Information provided under this submission request will be considered by the Royal Commission alongside submissions from the general public and stakeholders, data from statistical and regulatory agencies and any other evidence provided to the Commission.
Directions Hearing (18 January 2019)
The Royal Commission officially opened on Friday 18 January 2019 with the first public hearing held in Adelaide. Commissioners Tracey AM RFD QC and Briggs AO opened the Royal Commission by noting its broad remit which is inquisitorial not adversarial. While examining quality and safety (including all forms of neglect and abuse) and systemic issues, the Royal Commission will also examine the important interface between the health, disability and aged care systems, issues arising due to changing demographics, complex care issues around dementia and young people with disabilities living in residential aged care. As a future-focussed inquiry, the Royal Commission will also look to future challenges and opportunities, and the sustainability of the system going forward. Hearings will be held throughout 2019 likely extending into 2020 - commencing in Adelaide. Thereafter, the Royal Commission will travel to all capital cities and some regional and remote areas. Looking forward:
- the Royal Commission will hold its first public hearing in which witnesses will give evidence and leave to appear granted, commencing on 11 February 2019 and extending into the week commencing 18 February 2019, in Adelaide;
- given the sensitivity of the matters to be ventilated throughout the hearings, there will be mechanisms put in place, including private hearings to assist those being provided with care to feel empowered to voice their experiences; and
- prior to each public hearing, the Royal Commission will release details on its website including key themes for each public hearing which may involve case studies.
As part of the Royal Commission, hearings will commence from 11 February 2019, in Adelaide; there will be approximately 15 sitting weeks extending into 2020. In addition, we expect to see a series of stakeholder roundtable forums and discussion papers made available for comment.