National policies and initiatives

National Policies and Initiatives

The Australian Government has a number of policies and initiatives which ensure that aged care services are equitable and accessible to all older Australians.

Aged Care Act 1997

Among its objectives the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) articulates the following commitments:

2-1 (e)  to facilitate access to aged care services by those who need them, regardless of race, culture, language, gender, economic circumstance or geographic location;

2-1 (g)  to encourage diverse, flexible and responsive aged care services that (i) are appropriate to meet the needs of the recipients of those services and the carers of those recipients; and (ii)  facilitate the independence of, and choice available to, those recipients and carers.

The Act also identifies nine ‘special needs groups’. These include Indigenous Australians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, veterans and people who live in rural or remote areas, people who are financially and socially disadvantaged and care leavers. The Government also funds a number of supplements, strategies and programs to meet the needs of these groups.


Aged Care Quality Standards

The Aged Care Quality Standards apply to all aged care services including residential care, home care, flexible care and services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program. Assessment and monitoring against these new standards will commence from 1 July 2019.

The Aged Care Quality Standards will replace the current assessment and monitoring regimes known as:

• Accreditation Standards
• Home Care Standards
• National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program Quality Framework Standards
• Transition Care Standards.


The Aged Care Quality Standards are administered by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency who is responsible for:

• accreditation of Australian Government-subsidised aged care homes
• conducting quality reviews of home care and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flexible care services
• providing compliance monitoring, information and training to providers
• working with the community to promote quality care for older Australians.

Australia’s Aged Care Diversity Framework - Aged Care Sector Committee Diversity Sub-group

Released in December 2017, The Diversity Framework seeks to embed diversity in the design and delivery of aged care; and support action to address perceived or actual barriers to consumers accessing safe, equitable and quality aged care, while enabling consumers and carers to be partners in this process.

The Diversity Framework supports and extends upon the actions and initiatives already undertaken by the Australian Government and the aged care sector to build an inclusive, respectful, and person centred aged care system.

The Diversity Framework will complement the Single Quality Framework due to be released in July 2018.

Australia’s Multicultural Access and Equity Policy: Respecting diversity, Improving responsiveness

Multicultural Access and Equity Policy is the primary vehicle for ensuring that Australian Government programmes and services are responsive to the needs of Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse population. The key objectives of the policy are respecting diversity and improving responsiveness. The policy aims to ensure that government programmes and services are accessible by all Australians, responsive to their needs and deliver equitable outcomes regardless of cultural or linguistic backgrounds.

While access and equity have been the cornerstone of Australia's responsiveness to its culturally and linguistically diverse population for decades, the policy has been strengthened in line with the Australian Government's commitment statement "Multicultural Australia - united, strong, successful". The strengthened policy provides greater clarity for Australian Government departments and agencies and a more structured approach to implementation. This includes a clear set of minimum obligations, stronger governance and accountability arrangements and a robust planning and implementation framework.

Multicultural access and equity applies to all aspects of government work, from policy design to service delivery and engagement, whether delivered directly or outsourced with minimum requirements applicable. Conformance to the policy will increase, amongst other things, the transparency and accountability of access and equity obligations.


National Ageing and Aged Care Strategy for People from CALD Backgrounds

Released on 20 December 2012, the National Ageing and Aged Care Strategy for People from CALD Backgrounds was developed to inform the way the Australian Government responds to the needs of older people from CALD backgrounds and to better support the aged care sector to deliver care that is sensitive and appropriate to their needs. The Strategy articulates a number of principles, goals and actions.


Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS National)

 The Australian Government provides financial support to government funded aged care providers to access interpreting services. TIS National is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides both telephone and onsite interpreting. TIS National provides both telephone and on-site interpreting services and can be used in both residential and home care settings. Within the home care setting TIS can be used to assist consumers with understanding the Home Care Packages Programme, including their home care agreement, care plan, individualised budget and monthly statements, at no cost to them.

When accessing TIS National, providers need to quote their unique client code. If a provider is unsure of their client code, they can contact TIS National directly on 1300 655 820.


Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC)

The Australian Government funds an organisation in each state and territory to equip aged care providers to deliver culturally appropriate care to older people from CALD backgrounds. These organisations provide cultural diversity training to staff of aged care services, disseminate information on high quality aged care practices and support aged care service providers to develop new culturally inclusive services.