The New Aged Care Act Has Been Delayed: What Does This Mean for the Industry?

2024 was set to be a ground-breaking year for the aged care industry, with widespread reforms coming into effect that would transform how providers deliver their services. A new rights-based Aged Care Act, strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards, and a more streamlined regulatory model were all slated for July 1st. (Bryan, 2024) However, recent leaked documents reveal a major setback that could leave the industry waiting once again for much-needed change. 

A Long-Overdue Assessment of the Aged Care Sector

The push for these aged care industry reforms began back in 2018, when the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established. The Royal Commission was formed to investigate a series of scathing reviews of aged care facilities and multiple media reports highlighting instances where facilities failed to provide the right level of care and support for their residents.  

These weren’t just a simple oversight in care: the reports noted incidents of reprehensible elder abuse. Residents were being overmedicated, receiving inadequate food, and experiencing incidents of injury; and in a few situations they were placed in physical restraints for up to 10 hours a day (Haupt, 2019).  

As these damning reports came to light, it became clear that Australia needed a new, more well-defined, and comprehensively regulated Aged Care Act. One that strictly scrutinised the training and capabilities of staff within the sector and provided a higher standard of care for those within its remit. 

The Progress of the New Aged Care Act

The current reforms are based on recommendations from the Royal Commission’s 2021 report; aiming to shift aged care industry legislation to a model that will ‘put the rights and needs of older people at the centre of the aged care system’ (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2024).  

When implemented, these reforms will provide a complete overhaul of the Aged Care Act 1997. A welcome change, the updated Aged Care Act will embed new arrangements that ensure older people are treated with the respect they deserve (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2023), boosting the strength and capacity of workers and creating a more effective regulatory model for the sector. 

Delayed Legislation Leaves the Industry Holding Its Breath

In April, Nine News reported the contents of ‘leaked internal departmental communications’ which suggested the reforms would no longer be implemented by July 1st 2024. Instead, the date was listed as ‘TBC’, with a new predicted date of January or July 2025. Since the initial reporting, a federal government spokesperson has confirmed the delay, stating that the actual target date is later this year. (Theocharous, 2024) 

Apparently, the setback has occurred because the federal government needs to undertake additional consultation so they can consider further feedback (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2024). However, six years on from the beginning of the long-anticipated royal commission, the industry grows tired of the continued uncertainty. 

According to Council on Ageing chief executive Patricia Sparrow, the council understands the need for additional consultation on such a ‘major act’, but she says, “How long do older people have to wait for rights? They’ve been waiting for a long time.”. (Theocharous, 2024) 

How These Changes May Impact Aged Care Workers

Despite confusion around the completion date, there are some specific changes to the legislation that could significantly impact the day-to-day roles of aged care workers. 

  • Increased care minutes: The amount of time workers spend with their patients is set to increase to 215 minutes per resident, per day. (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2024) 
  • Greater transparency from providers: These changes include annual submissions about their operations, reporting the number of Enrolled Nurse Care Minutes, and a star rating for 24/7 registered nurse coverage on the My Aged Care ‘Find a Provider’ website. (Connolly, 2024)  
  • More attention for residents: Aged care residents will be better supported when making complaints, receiving increased attention and investigation on their behalf. There will also be increased protection for whistle-blowers; providing more secure avenues for older people, their families, and aged care workers to call out and expose poor or unacceptable treatment within aged care homes. (Bryan, 2023)  
  • New Aged Care Worker Screening Check: The new workforce screening requirements are a significant part of the reformed Aged Care Act. The new screening clearance will consider more information than a police check, looking into a person’s criminal and work history to ensure they’re suitable. (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2023) 

Along with these changes, there will also be steeper consequences for non-compliance, including: 

  • Revocation of an aged care provider’s registration 
  • Bans issued for aged care workers and providers 
  • Infringement notices, leading to potential civil penalties 
  • Providers required to enter voluntary administration 

While these new regulations will ultimately benefit those receiving support within the aged care system, the extra measures are likely to increase the administrative burden on a workforce already approaching capacity. (Connolly, 2024) 

What Does the Delay Mean for the Aged Care Sector?

Although the setback is frustrating for residents and workers alike, these reforms could define the future of aged care in Australia, directly impacting the wellbeing of vulnerable people across the country—it makes sense not to rush the process and ensure every detail is right. (Connolly, 2024)  

Also, providers now have more time to adapt their workforce management strategies in line with the proposed regulations. Once the legislation is implemented, any breaches or non-compliance could result in criminal penalties, so it’s vital for providers to avoid these repercussions. (Bryan, 2023) 

The compliance experts at CV Check can assess your organisation and implement systems that streamline the new requirements. Get in touch with our team to discuss how you can utilise this extra time and ensure your organisation is prepared. 


Bryan, M. (2023, August 22). A New Aged Care Act is Coming: What Providers Need to Know.Aged Care Essentials. 

Bryan, M. (2024, January 23). The Three “Mega Reforms” Coming to the Aged Care Industry in 2024. Aged Care Essentials.  

Connolly, A. (2024, April 17). New aged care laws bear the fingerprints of industry lobbyists. Will the voices of older Australians be heard? ABC Investigations. 

Connolly, A. (2024, March 12). Why new controversial aged care reforms could be the biggest shake-up for the sector in decades. ABC Investigations.  

Department of Health and Aged Care. (2023, November 20). Screening requirements for the aged care workforce.  

Department of Health and Aged Care. (2024, February 2). Aged care reform roadmap. 

Department of Health and Aged Care. (2024, February 6). About the new Aged Care Act.  

Department of Health and Aged Care. (2024, April 3). Minister for Aged Care – Statement – 3 April 2024 [Press release].  

Theocharous, M. (2024, April 2). Landmark aged care reforms could be delayed for a year, leaked documents show. Nine News. 

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