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Volunteering Australia have provided a response to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs on the Effectiveness of the Aged Care Quality Assessment and accreditation framework for protecting residents from abuse and poor practices, and ensuring proper clinical and medical care standards are maintained and practised.
Volunteering Australia have made a number of recommendations, emphasizing the importance of supporting the volunteering workforce through the Aged Care Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework given their essential role in residential settings.
These recommendations are provided in recognition of the invaluable social and economic contributions that volunteers make to the aged care workforce. This includes a 2017 Senate inquiry report into the Future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce highlighting that “there are five volunteers for every paid worker in the not-for-profit sector, at a value of about $290 billion per annum. In 2016, 23,537 volunteers provided 114,987 hours of care to older Australians in residential facilities.”
We encourage the Committee to consider our recommendations in relation to volunteer engagement in residential aged care settings, and ensure that there is greater consideration of the needs of volunteers in the Aged Care Quality and Accreditation Framework.
Summary of recommendations:
- Volunteering Australia recommends that all volunteer-involving organisations must comply with the standards outlined by the AACQA.
- We recommend that compliance and enforcement actions are proportionate to the seriousness of the breach.
- Volunteering Australia recommends a less prescriptive approach to accreditation that is based on consumer outcomes, as highlighted in the Single Aged Care Quality Framework.
- Volunteering Australia recommends mechanisms to support volunteers to feel empowered to make complaints without fear of reprisals, including instruments to escalate complaints.
- We recommend that volunteers are insured for personal injury and liability, and have access to the same post-incident debriefing and support provided to paid employees.
- Have well-trained managers of volunteers who can manage complex situations, are supported in their roles, create a positive culture and can support the volunteer workforce.
- Specialist education and training for volunteers engaged in residential settings to negate abuse and exploitation.
- Volunteering Australia recommends the use of the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement as a best-practice guide for volunteer participation in the residential settings.
- Volunteering Australia recommends that there is additional funding and support for volunteer involving aged care facilities to engage volunteers.
- Volunteering Australia recommends that the Committee consider the costs associated with volunteer administration and regulation, including appropriate training and support for volunteers.