Immunity for aged care providers will strip elders of legal rights
25th Mar 2022
A proposed amendment to the Aged Care Act that will protect aged care providers from civil claims and criminal charges arising from unlawful restraint incidents must not proceed, say lawyers.
The Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 2) Bill 2021 is currently before the Senate, and the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) is calling on senators not to pass Schedule 9 of the Bill to allow time for further debate.
“Granting aged care providers with immunity from civil and criminal claims means an aged care resident has no legal recourse if they are restrained without consent. It is an awful stripping away of rights and a further degradation of our elders,” said ALA National President Graham Droppert SC.
“Removing legal rights from vulnerable members in our community is another assault on the rule of law. Like the rest of the community, aged care residents must retain the right to seek justice for a wrongdoing.”
ALA member and aged care lawyer, Rodney Lewis says that immunity for aged care providers was not recommended by the Commissioners following the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, nor was it referred to in the Commonwealth’s Response to the Royal Commissioners.
“This amendment comes as a surprise package with minimal opportunity for public debate,” said Mr Lewis. “It is completely unacceptable and undermines the legal and human rights of aged care residents around Australia who may be in a locked ward, or have been given medication to change their behaviour, or have experienced other physical restraints.
“It is astounding discrimination against aged care residents and provides unprecedented protection against legal claims and charges for a discrete part of the private sector.”