A New Aged Care Act for 2024: Understanding the Effect on Providers

A new aged care act has been on the horizon for a while. And for providers, this means a combination of transformative care for their residents and the looming consequences of non-compliance with fundamental regulation changes.

Aged care act changes coming into effect in 2024

In less than a year, the current aged care legislation—including the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018—will be replaced by a new aged care act (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2023). Overall, this new legislation will contain a statement of rights and a new regulatory model, define eligibility requirements, and establish a single point of entry for the aged care system (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2023).

The new act will take effect from the 1st of July 2024, subject to parliamentary passage. And since every aged care provider will be impacted by these dramatic reforms, you will need to implement the relevant changes as soon as possible (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2023).

The trigger for aged care legislation changes

A Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established in 2018, to investigate the state of the aged care system in Australia—and they found that the existing legislation was no longer ‘fit for purpose’. By 2021, the final report called for a ‘fundamental reform’ (Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, 2021).

In 2023, it was confirmed that as a result of the commission, there would be a new aged care act that addressed the issues outlined in the report. According to the Department of Health and Aged Care, the act will be “Restoring dignity to aged care and ensuring older people are treated with the respect they deserve, to secure a strong and valued aged care workforce, design a new regulatory model, and embed new aged care assessment arrangements” (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2023).

Requirements for aged care providers

The new aged care act is vastly different from the previous iteration, and so there is quite a bit to prepare for. The main points you need to know are:

  • The purpose: “Facilitate access by older people to quality and safe, funded aged care services, based on their individual needs, with the aim of assisting them to continue to live active, self-determined and meaningful lives as they age.”
  • Increased services: A wider range of businesses can become funded aged care providers, rather than just ‘constitutional corporations’.
  • Individual rights: There will be a statement of the rights that all individuals are entitled to; you can read the proposed rights list in the full Consultation Paper.
  • Guiding principles: There will also be a statement of the principles for all operators; they are available in the Consultation Paper as well.
  • Defining ‘quality of care’: To clarify requirements and lift standards, the act will include a new definition of ‘high quality care’.
  • Appointing a representative: Confusing and inconsistent rules for appointing a representative will be rewritten and clarified.
  • Eligibility tests: The process will be simplified and more relevant to the applicant’s needs. (Bryan, 2023)

The Department of Health and Aged Care is also looking at creating a new statutory duty of care for registered providers. It basically reiterates the conduct you work alongside every day—stating that you must comply, cooperate, and take reasonable care, so that you do not adversely affect the health and safety of people in your care. (Bryan, 2023)

Consequences for non-compliance

With any industry, breaching regulations can lead to severe consequences, but for aged care, the weight of responsible service is not purely driven by the fear of financial penalties—the wellbeing of an entire section of society is at stake. So, with the new aged care act focusing more on the needs of older people, rather than providers, it follows that the consequences for non-compliance have become more serious.

Overall, providers and individuals who breach regulations might face criminal penalties, while aged care residents may have additional ways for applying for compensation. The new act will also give the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission more powers, including the ability to:

  • Suspend or revoke a provider’s registration
  • Issue banning orders for providers and workers
  • Give an infringement notice, carry out enforceable undertakings, or apply for civil penalties
  • Appoint a statutory manager to take over management of a provider
  • Arrange the appointment of a voluntary administrator of a provider (Bryan, 2023)

Shifting workforce management strategies to align with changes

The changes implemented in the new aged care act reflect a shift towards a more person-centered, rights-based approach to aged care in Australia. Although this is long-overdue and could transform the wellbeing of older people across the country, it also makes for a busy end of 2023 for aged care providers. Organisations will need to adapt their workforce management strategies to align with these changes, emphasising training, compliance, and a focus on meeting the individual needs of residents.


“A new aged care Act”. Department of Health and Aged Care. (2023, September 28). https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/aged-care-reforms/aged-care-legislative-reform/a-new-aged-care-act

Bryan, M. (2023, August 22). A New Aged Care Act is Coming: What Providers Need to Know. Aged Care Essentials. https://www.agedcareessentials.com.au/news/a-new-aged-care-act-is-coming-what-providers-need-to-know

“Final Report calls for fundamental and systemic aged care reform”. Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. (March, 2021). https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/news-and-media/final-report-calls-fundamental-and-systemic-aged-care-reform

New Aged Care Act: Frequently Asked Questions. (2023). Department of Health and Aged Care. https://agedcareengagement.health.gov.au/images/agedcareact/aca/FAQs.pdf

“Read the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety”. Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. (2023). https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/

“What we’re doing to reform aged care”. Department of Health and Aged Care. (2023, May 9). https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/aged-care-reforms/what-were-doing

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