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Federal Labor will introduce tough new penalties, including jail time, to stop ‘dodgy’ aged care providers neglecting and mistreating their residents, if it wins the upcoming federal election.

It will also ensure full transparency for Australian taxpayers and aged care recipients over where public and private funds are being spent by requiring providers to provide publicly available breakdowns of money spent on care, nursing, food, cleaning, and profits.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese announced the new measures yesterday, saying that after a decade of shameful neglect, a Labor Government would solve the crisis in aged care and put security, dignity, quality and humanity back into the embattled sector.

If it wins the federal election, Labor will introduce criminal penalties for aged care providers who “seriously and repeatedly” facilitate or cover up the abuse and neglect of aged care residents. It will also establish a new duty of care, accountable by providers, to recipients of aged care services, including a compensations scheme when the duty is breached.

Labor says the move will create a pathway for class actions against “dodgy providers”.

Other measures announced include the creation of a new aged care complaints commissioner; penalties for providers who punish aged care workers, residents and families in retaliation following complaints; and arming the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission with stronger investigative powers.

“The neglect of our aged care residents has gone on for too long,” Mr Albanese said.

“The people who built Australia deserve more protection from their Government. I will act to ensure the sorts of shocking stories we heard during the Aged Care Royal Commission are no longer tolerated.”

“Most aged care providers do a great job and put the health and wellbeing of their residents above all else,” added Shadow Minister for Aged Care Services, Claire O’Neil.
“But there are dodgy providers out there who have been allowed to continue shocking practices which hurt residents, such as re-serving uneaten food from one resident – pureed for other residents – as well as delays in medical treatment and overuse of physical restraints and drugs.”

Yesterday’s measures, which also included plans to fix the home care system by improving transparency, build on those announced by Mr Albanese in his Budget Reply speech last Thursday night.

Labor’s commitment to aged care, if elected, included bringing in a registered nurse in every nursing home 24/7; a mandated minimum of 215 minutes of care per resident per day; funding wage increases for aged care workers; and ensuring financial accountability across the sector. Altogether, Labor pledged $2.5 billion over four years to solve the crisis in the aged care.