Aged care worker screening Bill proposed

Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie has committed to introducing a Private Member's Bill to Parliament to create a national screening program for aged-care workers, if re-elected.

Ms Sharkie's Bill would require all workers and volunteers within 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," she 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."

Ms Sharkie said having a nationally-consistent worker screening program would allow aged care providers to screen potential employees for a history of misconduct.

She spoke passionately on the issue at the recent Mayo Candidates Forum, held at Centenary Hall in Goolwa.

"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," she said.

"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."

Such a screening program was recommended by the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission report into Elder Abuse and Ms Sharkie's proposed Bill, mirrors these recommendations.