Private Member's Bill to screen aged care workers

22 Jul 2020

Posted May 08, 2019

If re-elected, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie will introduce a Private Member’s Bill to introduce a nationally-consistent worker screening program for aged care workers.

The Bill will require all workers and volunteers in the aged care sector to undergo comprehensive screening with their details then registered on a national database operated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

“The fall-out from the travesties uncovered at the Oakden facility, and even more recent media reports of assaults on aged care residents, has thrown into sharp relief the need to screen and monitor those who care for the most vulnerable,” Rebekha said.

“Earlier this year the Royal Commission heard that there were more than 3700 assaults in aged care facilities in the last financial year — and that figure excludes incidents when residents attacked each other.

“Having a nationally-consistent worker screening program would allow aged care providers to search the database to screen potential employees for any history of misconduct.

“It is my intention that information entered into the database will include an individual’s criminal history, involvement in any reportable incidents under the existing compulsory reporting scheme and any disciplinary proceedings and complaints.

“The entries on the database will be ‘real time’ information and should serve as a ‘red flag’ for potential employers.

“We cannot wait for the recommendations of Royal Commission into aged care to suggest such a database.

“This is essential public policy that needs to be introduced as soon as possible.”

A nationally-consistent worker screening program was recommended by the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission report into Elder Abuse.

Rebekha’s Private Member’s Bill will closely mirror the recommendations of this report.

“In 2016, it was estimated that there were over 366,000 paid aged care workers and 68,000 volunteers,” Rebekha said.

“The aged care sector is the largest growing industry – in terms of employment – with 57,700 people entering the workforce last year alone and while I welcome the Government’s goal of 475,000 aged care workers by 2025, it is vitally important that we monitor this growing workforce to ensure that those who should not be working with our aged residents are identified quickly.”

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