AGED CARE advocates have welcomed the extension of the aged care royal commission, but say critical issues within the sector need to be fixed now.
The federal government has announced it will give the royal commission an extra six months to complete its work, as well as adding another commissioner, Tony Pagone QC.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) said the extension would allow extra time for a deeper investigation into the many complex issues in aged care and their solutions, but warned against delaying reform.
"Urgent action - before Christmas this year - is required to avert the increasing risk of service failures, job losses and missed care while the commission considers longer term reforms," said LASA chief executive Sean Rooney.
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"This is a 'once in a generation' opportunity to make the aged care system better for all older Australians, now and into the future, and we must get it right," he said.
"However, we cannot delay action on making the aged care system better right now, by addressing the key issues of access to services, funding of services, quality of services and supporting the workforce that delivers these services.
"Our Members are telling us that their ability to consistently deliver high standards of care and service that older Australians expect and deserve are being constrained by continued financial pressure.
"Many organisations are likely to reduce services, reduce staffing and/or reduce investment without funding relief."
Not-for-profit provider body Aged and Community Services Australia said the royal commission's extension would ensure broader discussions about big-picture solutions occurred, but new funding solutions were critical.
"There is good reason to feel optimistic about what can be achieved through the royal commission," ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said.
"But until we see adequate planning of the structural and funding issues, Australia won't be able to fully address the needs of older Australians, let alone address the future challenges of our ageing population."
The federal opposition said said the government must not use the inquiry's extension as an excuse to delay reform.
"The Liberals don't need the royal commission's final report to act on the things we know are wrong today," opposition ageing and seniors spokeswoman Julie Collins said.
"The Liberals cannot use this extension as an excuse to continue failing older Australians in aged care," said Labor ageing and seniors spokeswoman Julie Collins.
"The Liberals don't need the Royal Commission's final report to act on the things we know are wrong today."
Aged Care and Senior Australians Minister Richard Colbeck on Friday said aged care was front-and-centre of the government's agenda as one of its key priorities, adding it had continued to implement reforms while the commission progressed.
The royal commission had been due to deliver its final report by April 30 next year, but will now run until next October.
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