When accessing aged care support we all have the right to excellent care and medical treatment that suits our needs. We all deserve to live well, to be safe, and to be treated with dignity and respect. So how does mandatory reporting help with this?

Let’s take a closer look at what reportable incidents are and how mandatory reporting helps to uphold Australia’s high standards in aged care.


What is mandatory reporting in aged care?

We are very fortunate to have a highly regulated aged care sector in Australia. These regulations help to ensure every aged care provider delivers quality care and services to those under their duty of care.

Under Australia’s Aged Care Act 1997, aged care providers must report serious incidents if they are known or suspected to have occurred. These incidents may relate to abuse, neglect or exploitation of a person receiving care, so it’s essential that any such incidents are reported quickly. Mandatory reporting helps to make sure reportable incidents are documented, addressed and prevented from happening again.  

You may have heard about The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. As a result of this Commission, the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) commenced in April 2021 to cover a more extensive range of serious incidents than was previously reportable in residential aged care. As of December 2022, SIRS will also extend to home care and flexible care delivered in a home or community setting.


Who is responsible for reporting for your loved ones?

Australian aged care providers must have a documented set of operating procedures and protocols to help manage reportable incidents. This is known as an incident management system, or IMS. If a reportable incident occurs or is suspected, the aged care provider must make a report to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission within the correct timeframe for the circumstances.

Elderly abuse reporting is the responsibility of anyone who may notice a problem. If you or a loved one are in care and you see or hear about a reportable incident, it’s vital you tell a staff member so the incident can be addressed. 


What kinds of incidents are to be reported?

Under the Serious Incident Response Scheme, there are eight categories of reportable incidents. While it’s troubling to even consider these types of incidents, it’s important that everyone has awareness of them so they can be actively minimised and prevented.


Unreasonable use of force

Pushing, hitting, shoving or the rough handling of a care recipient are all cause for incident reporting in aged care.


Unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual conduct

This includes sexual threats against any person receiving care, as well as stalking or sexual activities without the person’s consent.


Neglect of a consumer 

Examples of reportable neglect can include withholding personal care, leaving wounds untreated or failing to provide enough assistance during meals.


Psychological or emotional abuse 

This may include name-calling, yelling, ignoring a person or denying them access to care or services as a means of punishment.


Unexpected death 

Unexpected death is reportable where it’s known or suspected that reasonable steps were not taken by the provider to prevent the death. Or, where the death is the result of care or services provided by the provider. Or, where the death is the result of a failure by the provider to provide care and services. 


Stealing or financial coercion by a team member

Financial exploitation examples include where a staff member steals valuables from the person receiving care, or if a staff member coerces a resident into changing their will to their advantage. 


Inappropriate use of restrictive practices

Such circumstances might include: 

  • Where a restrictive practice is used without prior consent or without notifying the resident’s representative as soon as practicable
  • Where a restrictive practice is used in a non-emergency situation, or
  • When a provider issues a drug to a care recipient to influence their behaviour as a form of restrictive practice.


Unexplained absence from care

This is where the person is absent from the aged care service without explanation and there are reasonable grounds to report the absence to the police.


What isn’t a reportable incident?

If an incident isn’t one of the eight types listed above, it does not need to be reported under SIRS. However, it may need to be reported to another government body depending on what has occurred.


What is the mandatory reporting process?

Mandatory incident reporting in aged care follows a clear process to ensure serious incidents are documented and addressed. 

  • Determining whether the incident is reportable

Every aged care provider must manage incidents in line with their incident management system (IMS). If an incident has occurred or is believed to have occurred, the provider will review the criteria to determine if what happened is a reportable incident.

  • Determining the incident priority

The SIRS offers a decision support tool to help determine whether a reportable incident is Priority 1 or Priority 2.  


Priority 1 incidents include:

  • Those that have caused or could reasonably have been expected to cause the person physical or psychological harm and/or discomfort that would usually require medical or psychological treatment to resolve, or
  • Where there are reasonable grounds to contact the police, or
  • When there is the unexpected death of a care recipient, or a care recipient’s unexplained absence from the service.


Priority 2 incidents are all those that fit within the eight reportable categories but do not meet the criteria for Priority 1 incidents. 

  • Reporting the incident 

Providers must report incidents through the My Aged Care Provider Portal. All staff should be given the training and access to submit reports accurately and on time.

Priority 1 incidents need to be reported to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission within 24 hours of the provider becoming aware of the incident. Providers must also submit a report to local police within 24 hours.


Priority 2 incidents need to be reported to the Commission within 30 days of a provider becoming aware of the incident.

  • Getting in touch with you

Any reportable incidents should be discussed soon after with the care recipient. This person should be given ample opportunity to provide feedback as well as access to support services as needed. The provider may also speak with the person’s family or friends to help determine the next steps forward for their care.


What happens next?

The Commission has the power to issue compliance notices for suspected non-compliance with provider responsibilities, and to take regulatory action as needed. The outcome will depend on the unique circumstances, but the broad objective will be to ensure the incident does not occur again and that the person in care is being supported. 


The importance of mandatory reporting

Good management and care will minimise reportable incidents in aged care, yet mandatory reporting is – and always should be – an essential part of identifying and preventing harm for those needing support. Mandatory reporting in aged care within Australia is a valuable safeguard, for the wellbeing of all.


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Aurrum Aged Care homes are located across NSW and Victoria, and we take our responsibility as aged care providers very seriously. We’d love you to experience our beautiful care homes, and how we put our care model for excellence into practice every day. Contact us to arrange your personalised tour today.