The Royal Commission into the Aged Care sector – perspectives for sponsors of expatriate health and community care professionals

November 7, 2018
FCB Smart Visa

Industry Focus

Health & Aged Care

As most are aware, on Sunday, 16 September Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Government’s decision to ask the Governor General to establish a Royal Commission into the Aged Care sector. The Royal Commission will primarily look at the quality of care provided in residential and home aged care to senior Australians, and young Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care settings.

The demands for accountability in the Aged Care sector will properly focus on the welfare of staff and patients, and for many operators, it will mean time to take stock of their track record with regulators exercising powers under the Aged Care Act 1997.

Adverse information

A large number of operators in the Aged / Community Care sectors are reliant on supplementing their local workforce with skilled expatriate healthcare professionals. For most, this will mean access to the 457 (now ‘TSS’) programme, and the Employer Nomination Scheme.

Users of employer-sponsored migration will have no doubt encountered the declaration relating to ‘Adverse Information’ in connection with those applications.  Unless ‘it is reasonable for the Minister to disregard’ it, the existence of any Adverse Information and/or failure to disclose it is enough to result in refusal of sponsorship and nomination applications.

Before 19 March 2018, Adverse Information was only declarable if – in the previous 3 years – the sponsor or nominator was the subject of a conviction, contravention, administrative action, investigation, or disciplinary action (including Warnings) relating to one or more limited ‘matters’ enumerated by the Regulations.

It is quite possible that audits by Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA), and sanctions or Warnings by the Department of Health for infringements against the Aged Care Act may not have been captured by the definition, or if they did, were ‘sunsetted’ by the three year rule.

However, earlier this year, the Migration Legislation Amendment (Temporary Skill Shortage Visa and Complementary Reforms) Bill 2018 was passed and the definition was changed so that Adverse Information is no longer limited in terms of time, or limited in terms of having to relate to a specific law.

Given the enormous financial and reputational risk increasingly present in the employer-sponsored visa framework, all sponsor / nominators should be mindful of this significant change in the law. However, sponsors and nominators who find themselves in the spotlight of a Royal Commission would be well advised to ensure that any Adverse Information is expertly dealt with when accessing the employer sponsored visa framework.

To speak to an expert from FCB Smart Visa please call 02 9922 5188.