From The Politicians

12 October 2019

Rebekha Sharkie pursues transparency in aged care staffing

In the first session of the 46th parliament, Rebekha Sharkie reintroduced her Bill seeking to require nursing homes to make public their staffing ratios. The Bill was first introduced in 2018 (see posting on previous page) but lapsed with the close of the 45th parliament prior to the May 2019 federal election.
The Bill, introduced on the 22nd July, was seconded by Helen Haines the Independent member for Indi in Victoria.
Ms Sharkie cited the ‘deeply troubling” Royal Commission evidence to argue that parliament should embrace any efforts to improve accountability and transparency and this Bill “was a first step in the right direction”. She noted that the CEO of provider association, Aged and Community Services, had endorsed staffing transparency in principle when giving evidence in February 2019.
A parliamentary committee had recommended her 2018 Bill be passed but had said it would be beneficial for the public to know they were comparing like with like.
To this end, the Bill was amended to include a requirement for provider staffing figures to be published by the Department in categories according to their level of government funding that is, according to levels of resident acuity (dependency).
In its submission to the Royal Commission, Elder Care Watch has argued that staffing figures for a particular home should be also on public display in that home and thus readily accessible to residents and their families.
Rebekha Sharkie
Mayo, SA
Centre Alliance

“Centre Alliance is all about transparency in government and public policy and we believe that mandating the publication of staffing ratios in aged-care facilities will empower our communitiy to make informed choices”.

Hansard, 22 July 2019: 411

Ms Sharkie called on the Morrison government to implement the measures in her amended Bill (for details on the Bill see 2018 posting on previous page, linked below).
At the same time, she introduced another aged care Bill. This would require all aged-care workers and volunteers to be screened for any history of misconduct. The details
would be registered on a national database. This Bill (Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Bill 2019) was seconded by Zali Steggall, Independent member for Warringah in NSW.

Hansard, 22 July 2019: 411-416