No Freedom of Information under Single Aged Care Quality Framework

The Aged Care (Single Quality Framework) Reform Bill 2018 has cleared the Senate, but the sector will maintain its secrecy and culture of cover-ups.

The new Single Quality Framework will start on 1 July 2019.

Six months earlier, the current Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and the office of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner will have merged into the Aged Care Safety and Quality Commission.

The Single Quality Framework was reviewed in the April 2018 issue of THE VOICE, the conclusion being that the new standards were even vaguer than the old ones.

“Millions of senior Australians are set to benefit from stronger aged care quality standards, as the Morrison Government’s comprehensive aged care overhaul moves into top gear”, is what the Government’s media release says.

To CPSA it looks more like a case of re-arranging the same tired old regulation while removing the very limited specificity of the old standards.

A good indication that this reform will not actually reform anything is the fact that the Bill also amends the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to ensure that documents containing protected information acquired by the Quality Agency in the course of its functions are exempt from disclosure.

The unauthorised disclosure of protected information is a criminal offence, punishable by jail.

The definition of protected information for aged care is:

Information that relates to the affairs of an approved [aged care] provider.

That’s practically any type of information imaginable and ensures that the Department can knock back almost any Freedom of Information application.

The Aged Care (Single Quality Framework) Reform Bill 2018 perpetuates the secrecy in which much of the administration of aged care is shrouded.