The Aged Care Royal Commission has suspended proceedings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all hearings, group consultations and workshops scheduled until at least the end of May affected by the decision.
Commissioners enacted the change, which remains subject to review, after receiving public health advice from the federal government, with aged care set to be an area of particular concern for healthcare providers dealing with the crisis.
To date more than 2,000 Australians have contracted the virus across the country, the number of reported cases growing rapidly across the weekend, with many states beginning to shut their borders and/or announcing lockdown measures for non-essential businesses and services.
The Commissioners are carefully considering the implications this decision will have on their continuing work program.
The Commissioners emphasise that the health and wellbeing of staff and those engaging with the Royal Commission is critically important. The Royal Commission’s future work program will be informed by public health advice.
“Meaningful engagement with the sector is paramount to the work of the Royal Commission’s Inquiry into aged care quality and safety, which is why we have decided to suspend all hearings and workshops,” the Commissioner said in a statement.
The Commissioners recognised the substantial efforts being made by aged care service providers and health services, and their staff, in supporting the needs of older people during this crisis.
“We must allow service providers and government to focus fully on their response to the pandemic.”
Additionally, the Royal Commission also announced that in light of the changed environment, the deadline for submissions will be pushed back two months to 30 June.