Greater transparency, whistleblower reforms needed following Royal Commission Report

The release of the Interim Report by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has today raised serious concerns around neglect and the structural challenges confronting the aged care sector.  

The Report comes amidst findings from the Governance Institute’s 2019 Ethics Index, which shows that the aged care sector is dogged by perceptions of unethical behaviour.  

The Index, due to be released on 12 November, will reveal that 42% of Australians perceive aged-care Directors and Executive management as unethical. Views on aged-care organisations are polarising, with 36% rating them as ethical versus 38% as unethical. 

CEO of Governance Institute of Australia Megan Motto said the Commission’s interim report findings demonstrated the importance of proper governance in the aged care sector.  

“While we acknowledge that there are some structural challenges in the aged care sector, especially around costs, I don’t think the community considers this as an excuse for poor governance standards or practices.”  

Ms Motto said she also had some concerns around the ability of whistleblowers to come forward in the sector, saying that whistleblower protections needed to go further.   

“It is vitally important that whistleblowers are able to make disclosures about unlawful, negligent or unethical behaviour without fear of reprisal.  

“We have long-supported the position that whistleblowing needs to be addressed in its own stand-alone act, which enshrines these protections.” 

The Interim Report also underlined common learnings from the banking and financial services royal commission, particularly around the importance of managing non-financial risks, such as operational risks and staff conduct.  

“Non-financial risks take on an added level of importance in the health sector, as operational failures or staff negligence can have major and immediate ramifications on the wellbeing of vulnerable people in aged care.  

In recognition of the important role of the Aged Care sector and the urgency of reform in the sector, Governance Institute Australia has taken immediate action by partnering with Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) to provide governance and training to boards and management.” 

Ms Motto said that the Interim Report’s findings underscored the need for organisations and staff across the sector to improve or refresh their training in governance.  

“I strongly recommend that managers and directors/board members in Aged Care, consult our guide, which advises on navigating key issues, such as workforce planning, regulatory compliance and financial sustainability. 

The guide is available as a free resource online via the Governance Institute’s website

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Mark Kennedy
Senior Media Adviser
Governance Institute of Australia
+61430 901 377
media@governanceinstitute.com.au

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