Aged care provides support to older people to help them with everyday living and other needs.

In 2018-19, the Australian Government spent $19.9 billion on aged care. More than 100,000 people receive home care packages and 2 out of 3 people are receiving aged care basic support at home.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety tabled its final report in the Australian Parliament on 1 March 2021. The Report noted substandard care and abuse pervades the Australian aged care system.

Substandard care can occur in both routine areas of care, like food, medication management and skincare, as well as in complex care, such as the management of chronic conditions, dementia, or palliation. Substandard care can also take the form of deliberate acts of harm and forms of abuse—including physical and sexual abuse and abuse from inappropriate restrictive practices. Abuse is an extreme example of substandard care and reaches into the realm of criminal behaviour.


The Report further noted, the abuse of older people in residential care is far from uncommon:

  • In 2019–20, residential aged care services reported 5718 allegations of assault under the mandatory reporting requirements of the Aged Care Act.
  • A study conducted by consultancy firm KPMG for the Australian Department of Health estimated that, in the same year, a further 27,000 to 39,000 alleged assaults occurred that were exempt from mandatory reporting because they were resident-on-resident incidents.
  • Physical and sexual abuse occurred at the hands of staff members, and in some situations, residential aged care providers did not protect residents from abuse by other residents.
  • Restrictive practices, which are activities or interventions, either physical or pharmacological, that restrict a person’s free movement or ability to make decisions (when occurring without clear justification and clinical indication), is also considered abuse. Restrictive practices can result in serious physical and psychological harm and, in some cases, death. Restrictive practices have been identified as a problem in aged care in Australia for more than 20 years. The inappropriate use of unsafe and inhumane restrictive practices in residential aged care has continued, despite multiple reviews and reports highlighting the problem. It must stop now.

The Reported stated unequivocally that abuse in aged care settings is “a disgrace and should be a source of national shame. Older people receiving aged care should be safe and free from abuse at all times.”

Several system issues were identified by the Commission including inadequate funding, variable provider governance and behaviour, absence of system leadership and governance, and poor access to health care


WISE Workplace can assist you with an investigation into matters related to aged care.

If a complaint or allegation is raised about the conduct of a member of staff or volunteer in an aged care service, WISE Workplace can assist in investigations into procedural or policy breaches (such as medication errors), which result in adverse outcomes for clients.


WISE Workplace will ensure any investigations complies with the relevant regulatory and compliance frameworks. We can also provide expert advice on issues around victim and family support.

The Final Report and Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety are available online.


For more information about how WISE Workplace can assist you with workplace investigations, call us on 1300 580 685 or email [email protected]