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Protecting consumer rights

Your rights as someone who receives aged care services (whether in your own home, in the community or in an aged care home) are protected by government legislation. These laws aim to make sure that aged care services are provided correctly and consumer rights are managed properly. They also aim to protect you and your carer from any discrimination. If needed, there are government departments and independent aged care advocacy services that you can go to for help interpreting the laws and understanding your rights.


Aged Care Act

The Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) makes sure everyone who needs aged care has access to it, where it is available, regardless of their race, culture, language, gender, economic circumstance or geographic location.

The Act promotes high-quality care and services that meet your needs and protect your health and wellbeing. It encourages diverse, flexible and responsive services. Through the Act, your personal, civil, legal and consumer rights are also protected.

Under the Act, care can be provided as residential care (in an aged care home), home care (help to stay in your own home) or flexible care. Aged care service providers receive funding according to the quality and level of care they provide, and are accountable for the care provided.

The Act also ensures that aged care is affordable. It sets out rules for the payment of fees, and charges for people who can afford to contribute towards their care and accommodation.

Your rights are protected under the Charter of Care Recipient's Rights and Responsibilities - Residential Care and Home Care. The Act is a complex document, however, you can view the Aged Care Act.

Aged Care (Accommodation Payment Security) Act

If your Commonwealth-subsidised aged care service provider becomes insolvent or bankrupt, the Aged Care (Accommodation Payment Security) Act 2006 (the Guarantee Scheme) guarantees an amount will be paid equivalent to your refundable lump sum balance (refundable deposits, refundable contributions, accommodation bonds and entry contributions) plus any interest.

The Commonwealth then assumes your right as a creditor to pursue the defaulting provider to recover the amount paid out under the Guarantee Scheme.

You can view the Aged Care (Accommodation Payment Security) Act 2006.

Age Discrimination Act

No matter how old or young, all Australians have the right to be treated equally. Unfortunately, age discrimination can often be a problem for older people.

To make sure all Australians are treated equally regardless of their age, the Australian Parliament has passed age discrimination legislation. The Age Discrimination Act 2004 makes direct and indirect age discrimination unlawful in many areas, such as employment, the provision of goods and services, accommodation and requests for information.

You can view the Age Discrimination Act.

Where to go for help

You can make a complaint

If you're unhappy with any aspect of the care or services you receive from an aged care service provider (whether in an aged care home or offered under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or a Home Care Package, flexible care, including transition care or the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Programme), there are two main ways you can make a complaint:

  • let your service provider know about your concern
  • make a complaint to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner (Complaints Commissioner).

For more information, read about how to make a complaint.

If you're not satisfied with the Complaints Commissioner's decision or how your complaint was handled, in the first instance please contact the Complaints Commissioner. You can also contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

For more information about asking for a review of a Commissioner's decision or process, visit the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner website.

Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman's role is to help the community by encouraging good government administration. The Ombudsman's office handles complaints, conducts investigations, performs audits and inspections and carries out specialist oversight tasks.

Visit the Commonwealth Ombudsman website for more information or to find contact details.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) promotes confident and informed participation by investors and consumers in the financial system and enforces laws that promote honesty and fairness in financial markets. ASIC acts as a consumer protection regulator for financial services.

Visit the ASIC website for more information or call ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630.

Last reviewed: 13 March, 2016.