Tips for adjusting to the ‘new normal’

Pre-pandemic life can seem like a distant memory, especially for those in Victoria and New South Wales. After almost two years of studying from home, working from home, and/or adapting to challenging circumstances as essential workers in aged care and early childhood education, the time has come to explore the new normal.

With rising vaccination rates across the country and restrictions easing, the time has come for us to move into a post-lockdown world. While the prospect of heading back out into the world is exciting, not to mention seeing loved ones after months apart, you might feel nervous or worried. Rest assured this is completely normal. To ensure the transition to the new normal goes smoothly for you, we have compiled some tips that might help.

Move at your own pace

No doubt being able to access our freedoms again means there will be the opportunity to make some changes in your life. This doesn’t mean you have to transform the way you live overnight. Take some time to assess what might change in your life in the coming weeks and months and make plans with a timeline that feels right.

You might prefer to ease back slowly — rushing to fill every day in your calendar and visit every favourite restaurant right away isn’t necessary. If you need to, slow it down to a pace that suits you to build your confidence starting with places where you feel comfortable.

On the other hand, if you’re ready to jump in to life where you left off that’s fine too. Keep following the latest health and safety guidelines to keep yourself and your community safe while enjoying life in the way that makes you happy.

Making plans and setting goals

During lockdown you might have already reflected on your life and goals, and thought about what you want to achieve. Exploring new hobbies or activities, or even a new career could be on your agenda.

Any time is a great time to consider taking up a course or upskilling to advance your career. Aged care or early childhood education are two booming sectors are offering excellent job prospects for caring individuals who are seeking a career that is both rewarding and meaningful. Aged care workers deliver life-altering care for ageing individuals who require support to get the most from life. In early childhood education, you provide care for children from birth through to school age, supporting them through the most critical stage of development and laying the foundation for their education. Each is a career path with plenty of options to grow and thrive!

Maintain good habits

When we started adjusting to restrictions and changes when lockdowns were initially introduced, it became apparent how important daily routines can be. Same applies when looking at easing restrictions and their implications for our daily lives. Keeping some things as they are could be a good way of transitioning gently, for example your morning walk and coffee or evening reading hour.

Just because restrictions are coming to an end, it doesn’t mean you need to stop doing those activities that you really enjoyed during lockdown. Many people found themselves become passionate about cooking, exercise routines or hobbies at home, and it’s okay to continue with the things you have come to love – especially if they’ve been good for you!

It might be tempting to rush out and do everything all at once simply because we are allowed, but keep prioritising your self-care and don’t push yourself too hard. There’s plenty of time to enjoy those freedoms we’ve all been longing for.

Talk to your friends and families

If you feel anxious, apprehensive or nervous about the easing restrictions and our re-introduction into the world, reach out and talk to those around you. Your friends, family and colleagues can offer support and may even be experiencing similar feelings. After all, we’ve all been through this together and we’re coming out of it together too.

When making plans, don’t forget to check in with your friends, family and work colleagues about what they are comfortable doing. We are all different — communication is key to take a supportive approach as we navigate the new normal.

Remember, you might need to adjust your expectations a little because chances are life won’t be exactly the same as pre-pandemic but there are still so many fun and exciting things to do in the new normal.

Keep the resources below in mind for anyone who needs support for their mental health and wellbeing:

Lifeline Australia

Provide access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Telephone: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue

Provides information, and support for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
Telephone1300 224 636


Provides young people with information and resources on mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services.
Telephone: 1800 650 890

1800 Respect

Provides 24 hour support to people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
Telephone: 1800 737 732


Provides free effective internet delivered psychological assessment and treatment for stress, anxiety, worry, depression, low mood, OCD and trauma (PTSD).
Telephone: 1800 614 434

Kids Helpline

Provides private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
Telephone: 1800 55 1800

National Debt Helpline

Helps people tackle their debt problems.
Telephone: 1800 007 007

National Coronavirus Helpline

Provides information and advice about COVID-19.
Telephone: 1800 020 080

While every day can be a day to talk about and work on mental health, World Mental Health Day is a powerful reminder.

What better time to reflect on mental health and its impact, particularly during the pandemic through these last two years. It’s also an opportunity to renew our focus on how we can do better when it comes to supporting one another, as well as prioritising self-care.

An international day dedicated to raising awareness and promoting mental health education, World Mental Health Day takes place on Sunday 10 October. In 2021, the World Mental Health Day theme is Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.

As well as raising awareness, taking the time to acknowledge the impact mental health can have on us all helps to break the stigma. In turn, this means more people will understand that mental health issues can touch anyone and that reaching out for support is not only acceptable but commendable.

Understanding the mental health effects of the pandemic

Mental health can impact anyone, regardless of age, career, gender or any status. It’s well-known that the pandemic presented a range of challenges that contributed to mental health struggles for people across Australia and the world.

Aged care workers, early childhood educators and a selection of other sector workers were deemed to be essential early in the pandemic. While this meant many were able to continue to work while others were losing their jobs and required to remain in lockdown at home, the impacts were certainly felt.

Those working in aged care were on the frontline of the pandemic as coronavirus swept through aged care services. Break-outs in these settings had tragic outcomes and resulted in many deaths. Even for aged care services who managed to stay safe from Covid-19, their residents were isolated in lockdown with visitors banned. Aged care workers have provided companionship and compassion to elderly residents and done their best to keep them connected with their families and the outside world for almost two years.

Early childhood educators have worked hard to continue provide care for children as well as a sense of normality during a period that was confusing and scary for children. Hygiene has always been of the utmost importance in early childhood, but the pandemic meant even more rigorous hygiene procedures. Masks and sanitiser have been a staple, along with temperature checks and measures that minimise the mingling of staff and children.

After dealing with some of the most challenging times ever faced in the workplace, these essential workers also navigated the other various restrictions that came with lockdowns. Students, too, lived through lockdown circumstances — not seeing friends and family, staying at home — while adapting to a range of shifts in their study journey. Courses went online, practical placements were delayed, and learners continued to push through their training with the support of dedicated and understanding trainers.

Let’s take a moment to recognise our essential workers’ incredible contribution to communities through extremely tough times. Similarly, a big congratulations to learners who stuck to their study journeys and adapted as needed, and those who took to working from home and the juggling required to do so productively.

Supporting self-care to help mental health and wellbeing

Getting through is one thing, but thriving is quite another. The resilience and commitment to push on during the pandemic has been impressive, however taking the time to look after your mental health while working and/or studying is crucial.

A little self-care can go a long way, especially when you know what you need to optimise your mental health. Many workers and learners have similar requirements when it comes to self-care that will enhance mental health and wellbeing. To support you in supporting yourself, we have some tips you might like to try:

  • Get organised: A clear space to work in or from can help to clear your mind too. This means a tidy workspace for learners, well-organised desk, locker and bag for workers and ideally a home environment that further supports that clear headspace.
  • Create a routine that works for you: This one is pretty personal, as what works for one person’s day won’t necessarily work for yours. Even if each day is different, try to create a weekly schedule that you can follow. A good routine should reduce stress, allowing for travel time and carving out space for things you love. Whether it’s a favourite show, exercise or catch ups with loved ones, your routine can help you fit in a solid balance of work and play.
  • Stay on top of your health: Eating healthily and getting some exercise in each day is pretty simple (especially with a good routine!). Healthy eating means getting all the nutrients you need to thrive. Go for fruit, veggies, protein and healthy carbohydrates, and keep exercise something you enjoy so you can look forward to it. Incidental exercise is great too — park the car a little further from the supermarket, walk to the train station or to get your morning coffee. Those little things really count!
  • Have boundaries in place: Create clear boundaries of when the work day begins and ends. Don’t check work emails after hours unless required, finish your day with a walk or your favourite snack. Put on a podcast or music you love on the way home to unwind. Your work day, or even your study time, should have a beginning and an end so you can relax.
  • Do things you love: Do you love a nice, hot bath? Picnics? Beach walks? Video games? Reading books in the sun? Say yes to activities that make you happy to ensure you are achieving a fulfilling balance in your life. Things that make you feel good are worth doing!

Supporting the aged care and early childhood sectors

Whether you’re studying or working while studying or thinking about studying, we make sure you are supported to chase your goals in a way that works for you.

The Catalyst Education registered training organisations take a flexible and human-centred approach to training, along with plenty of success every step of the way. We have teams in place to help learners negotiate a range of obstacles that you might encounter while training. Whether you need support with English, literacy, numeracy, general study tips or even help with a resume, there is help available. Not to mention our dedicated trainers in both aged care and early childhood education. They are available to be there for learners as needed via phone, email, video chat or even in-person when permitted.

Self-care and support from those around you can be hugely beneficial for mental health, but there are other resources to reach out to as well. Your GP can help you with a mental health plan, or get in touch with one of the reputable mental health support organisations listed below. Self-care is a must, but there is further support out there when you need it too.

Lifeline Australia –  Provide access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Telephone: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue – Provides information, and support for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
Telephone1300 224 636

Headspace – Provides young people with information and resources on mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services.
Telephone: 1800 650 890

1800 Respect – Provides 24 hour support to people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
Telephone: 1800 737 732

Mindspot – Provides free effective internet delivered psychological assessment and treatment for stress, anxiety, worry, depression, low mood, OCD and trauma (PTSD).
Telephone: 1800 614 434

Kids Helpline – Provides private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
Telephone: 1800 55 1800

National Debt Helpline – Helps people tackle their debt problems.
Telephone: 1800 007 007

National Coronavirus Helpline – Provides information and advice about COVID-19.
Telephone: 1800 020 080


Attracting and maintaining high quality staff is a challenge for many sectors. In particular, this has become a shared challenge of the early childhood education and aged care sectors.

Current statistics for employment in these sectors, along with future forecasting, demonstrates clear opportunities for improvement. Estimates from the Australian Government suggest that at least 17,000 more aged care workers will be needed in Australia every year over the next decade to meet sector demand.

Meanwhile, a 2019 a survey revealed that up to two in three early childhood educators in Victoria were considering leaving their role. High turnover of staff in childcare services across the country is a common issue.

There are overlapping reasons for these staff shortfalls across both sectors; including industry perceptions and a lack of training and upskill opportunities, along with wage concerns.

Encouragingly, the Federal Government has been focused on both child care and aged care sectors in recent years, with strong recommendations for reform to improve prospects and conditions for workers, such as those included in the recent aged care royal commission.

While progress at a Government level is encouraging, child care and aged care employers require more immediate action to address staff shortages, including attracting high quality workers to their organisations and retaining them.

Many are beginning to implement a range of strategies with the aim of achieving these staffing goals and ensuring they can create a thriving workplace now and into the future.

Effective partnerships with training providers

Partnering with leading training providers is a smart way for employers to gain direct access to high quality graduates. In many cases, it can create a direct pipeline for acquiring talent, whether through practical placement or adding a drawcard for incoming staff who want to receive quality training. This means less reliance on costly and time-consuming recruitment processes and often a higher standard of employee.

Employers taking on learners in practical placements not only helps increase their staff ratios, but gives them an opportunity to meet prospective employees and test whether they’ll be a good fit for their organisation before the formal hiring process.

Catalyst’s Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have over 15 years’ experience working with child care or aged care organisations, and in the case of Selmar both, to help address their staff shortages with well-rounded trainees and graduates.

Provide opportunities for staff training and upskilling

With a particular need to encourage younger entrants into both child and aged care sectors, employers should be able to demonstrate they’re willing to help their staff grow their skills and experiences over time. Upskilling and career progression is something that organisations of all sizes can foster in their staff, and it can go a long way to retaining them.

Again, partnering with organisations like Catalyst and our training organisations can make it easier to design training pathways for staff that have the desire to upskill, helping to keep them engaged and interested in staying on long term.

With changes to minimum qualifications required to work in in aged care and high expectations for those working in the essential child care sector, businesses that are proactive about training their staff will reap the most rewards short and long term.

Seeking out passion and commitment

Finding great people who are committed to their work and contribute to a positive workplace culture isn’t always easy.

While people who are fully qualified or even over-qualified may seem like the best fit on paper, they may not always translate to outstanding staff. Recruiters are increasingly viewing soft skills in critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, leadership and teamwork in high regard.

While “hard” skills gaps can be addressed by the organisation through training, it’s almost impossible to foster a true passion for making a difference in your staff. At Catalyst, our organisations’ courses incorporate self-reflection and foster growth of soft skills throughout the training journey.

Well-developed soft skills along with caring and compassionate natures — those people who find meaning in supporting others ­— will more likely make better long-term employee. Plus, you can support them to upskill their formal training and meet their individual goals.

Focus on workplace culture

A positive and supportive workplace culture is something that all employers can take an active role in creating – and it starts from a management level. Senior staff should feel supported and motivated to be their best, and in turn, model good behaviour that influences their team and their team’s team (depending on the size of the organisation!).

A good workplace culture exists when there’s a clear vision, people feel safe and respected and where hard work and career fulfilment are regarded in equal regard.

While maintaining a positive workplace culture has never been more challenging than in our pandemic-impacted world, it’s also never been more important for attracting and retaining staff.

Take action and enhance your workforce

With a significant shortage of staff in both child care and aged care sectors, small businesses and senior management in larger ones, have a great opportunity to entice high quality workers to join their organisations and stay in them.

Training, upskilling, a fresh approach to recruitment and harnessing a positive workplace culture can all make a big impact.

Catalyst delivers leading education in child care and aged care across Australia. For more information about working with us and helping your workforce reach its full potential, get in touch today.

Staying optimistic when life seems to continually throw obstacles in the way isn’t easy, but it is so important to keep up engagement and motivation when it comes to work, life commitments and even self-care.

The pandemic has resulted in many changes to life and a general sense of uncertainty which has impacted productivity, mental wellbeing and even job satisfaction. While those who are employed feel grateful to be a part of the workforce, shifts in circumstances have affected work life balance and the way we can relax or utilise spare time.

Boosting morale and keeping one another feeling positive is important. There are many strategies we can try as employers and co-workers to support those around us to push forward, stay productive and keep smiling.

Factors that may be affecting team morale

To understand how to help others when it comes to lifting spirits, it’s important to have a solid grasp of what might impact a person’s morale in the workplace as well as outside of it.

Here are a few key factors that could impact employee morale, with some related to the pandemic and others that can be affected more generally:

Shifting to online methods:

People across every sector have had to get to know new technologies and get more comfortable with doing things via screens. Sometimes it can feel that these methods are tedious or time-consuming. In addition, learning to do something new can take time and effort.

Adjusting to new rules or guidelines:

As well as moving to online and technology-based approaches, there have been a range of new guidelines to follow around the Covid-19 virus. Getting the hang of everything and learning to adjust can make people feel frustrated or overwhelmed. These includes stringent health precautions like mask-wearing, thorough cleaning requirements, staffing rules and more.

Juggling responsibilities:

Life is full of commitments outside of work, which sometimes can be tricky to manage alongside employment. With Covid-19 in mind, many families are juggling working from home with children not able to attend school. This has put immense pressure on parents and carers, forcing them to make many timetables try to work together to varying degrees of success.

Disrupted routines:

Many of us rely on routines to get the most from our days. The pandemic and resulting shifts in restrictions have meant usual schedules have been affected. This includes gym closures affecting disrupting exercise routines and feeling disconnected due to an inability to visit with friends and family.

When considering reasons for low morale in the workplace, it’s also important to consider whether issues could be stemming from within the place of employment. For example, unclear expectations, inconsistent reduced or extra working hours, workplace bullying, lack of support or recognition.

Signs of reduced employee morale

Not only can reduced morale impact a person’s experience of and behaviour in the workplace, but it can extend to personal lives too.

Here are some signs that may indicate low morale in the workplace and beyond:

Poor performance:

If a staff member is having trouble staying focused, they may have reduced productivity or performance in the workplace.

Lack of enthusiasm:

Everyone has ‘off’ days, but when an employee is consistently unenthused about participating in the team at work, it’s cause for concern.

Lateness or absenteeism:

While this behaviour may result in disciplinary action in the workplace, it’s also worth considering what may be causing this — could this person be in need of support or having difficulties?

Negative attitudes:

Whether it’s an uncooperative mindset, continual fault-finding or outbursts and mood swings, negative attitudes can permeate a workplace and getting to the bottom of things is a must.

Countering these challenges and supporting your team’s morale and wellbeing is crucial for a thriving workplace. There are many things you can do to try to combat signs of reduced morale, even in the face of challenges that are beyond your control.

How to boost morale in the workplace

When boosting team morale and work satisfaction, try incorporating these approaches:

Offer recognition:

A little recognition goes a long way toward employee engagement and loyalty. Shout out people in the workplace when they do well and consider systems such as employee of the month.

Communicate and connect:

Stay in the loop of how your team is feeling with an open, two-way line of communication. Create times to chat and offer a variety of means, including phone, email or even a note.

Be compassionate:

While work is important, personal lives can be stressful or overwhelming at times. Showing compassion and empathy when your employees are unwell or going through a bad time makes them feel that their wellbeing is prioritised.

Support career goals:

Make it your goal to know employees’ career goals and do what you can to help them achieve them. Career growth contributes greatly to sense of worth and motivation on the job.

Supporting staff wellbeing and mental health

Sometimes a situation may need more help than you can directly offer. However, there is plenty of help and support available from a range of reliable, qualified sources.

As well as regularly letting your team know that there is support from within the workplace as needed, it’s worth also mentioning the availability of additional resources. You could display the numbers and websites for some key wellbeing and mental health support services in staff areas, so everyone knows that how they are feeling really matters.

We have compiled a selection of quality resources for health and wellbeing services below. Keep these resources in mind for yourself, or to share with others:

  • Lifeline Australia –  Provide access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
    Telephone: 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – Provides information, and support for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
    Telephone1300 224 636
  • Headspace – Provides young people with information and resources on mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services.
    Telephone: 1800 650 890
  • 1800 Respect – Provides 24 hour support to people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
    Telephone: 1800 737 732
  • Mindspot – Provides free effective internet delivered psychological assessment and treatment for stress, anxiety, worry, depression, low mood, OCD and trauma (PTSD).
    Telephone: 1800 614 434
  • Kids Helpline – Provides private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
    Telephone: 1800 55 1800
  • National Debt Helpline – Helps people tackle their debt problems.
    Telephone: 1800 007 007

As we all navigate our way through respective COVID-19 outbreaks across the country, we appreciate many individuals and businesses continue to face personal and professional challenges. However, during the most challenging of times we must support each other the most, which is exactly what we will continue to do.

As these unprecedented times progress, Catalyst Education will continue to operate and support you, your organisation and your educators and staff. We hope that everyone is staying safe and well and our thoughts go out particularly to those whose families have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with care and compassion, clarity is of the utmost importance during a challenging period. As such, we have actioned flexible strategies based on the latest information available at this time to ensure we can continue to support our clients and our learners.

Education is vital to our communities and as such we will continue to provide the highest possible standard of training to all learners while also supporting our clients’ needs. While face-to-face contact is restricted, by supporting our community by observing social distancing, our very supportive trainers and client relationship team will continue to be available via email, phone and video calls as per usual.

We will keep you updated on information and recommendations from health authorities and the Government becomes available.

Our RTO’s delivery models mean learners can continue to work towards their valuable qualification during these unprecedented times.

Essential information on the COVID-19 situation continues to be updated regularly and we are monitoring all reliable sources including school, centre and facility visitor restrictions and temporary closers. You can also track the latest Australian updates via the Australian Government Department of Health and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. For global updates, visit the World Health Organisation’s website.

Should you require specific support or guidance during this time, we encourage you to reach out to your dedicated trainer, client relationship contact or contact us here.


Knowing what’s what when it comes to tax time as a learner can ensure that you get the right amount of tax returned to you.

Did you know that students can be eligible to make study-related expense claims at tax time? With the end of financial year for the 2020/21 period nearly here, now is the time to make sure you know what’s what when it comes to tax savings and your studies.

On top of deductions related to your course, there are also many work-related expenses that you can claim at tax time. With the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact, there are a few changes to how home expenses are calculated, so it’s important to stay informed.

Getting organised for EOFY

Hopefully you’ve been pretty organised throughout the past year when it comes to EOFY. This can go a long way toward maximising your tax deductions — and that could mean more money back in your bank account.

If you haven’t been organised for tax time, there’s still time to get everything sorted. It’s also worth considering putting together a system that will help you keep on top of your income and expenses ongoing. This might be using an app, a physical filing system like a plastic sleeve folder, or organising folders on your computer or email.

If you’re wondering what sorts of things you will be filing and keeping track of, here’s an idea:

PAYG Payment Summaries:

These used to be called group certificates, and they are a document provided to you by your employer that outlines how much money you earned, how much tax was withheld and how much superannuation you were paid.

Previous tax returns:

It’s good to keep track of your earnings and tax records, and tax returns can show you how much tax you have been getting back each year.

Bank statements:

Matching up receipts and invoices to your bank statements is called doing a bank reconciliation. This ensures you are across all the money going in and out of your bank account. It can help you to spot any unusual or unexpected charges too.

Receipts for relevant expenses:

If you make a purchase that is study or work-related, you may be able to claim them as tax deductions when you lodge your tax return. Keep reading for more on which receipts you might want to keep.

Tax savings for learners

Taking on a course and any study-related expenses is a worthwhile investment no matter what. However, if you keep track of what you’re spending to support your studies, you might find that you can claim some of your expenses as tax deductions at EOFY.

According to the Australian Tax Office, there are a number of self-education deductions that you can claim provided you meet the criteria:

  • you are improving specific skills or knowledge you use in your current employment
  • you’re a trainee employee and the course you are undertaking forms part of that traineeship
  • you can show that at the time you were working and studying, your course led, or was likely to lead, to an increase in employment income

Potential tax deductions for learners

So what kind of expenses can you potentially claim as tax deductions? Here’s a few to keep in mind:

  • Your course fees (only if you paid them yourself)
  • Textbooks
  • Internet connection and usage (if you’re studying online)
  • Running expenses if you have a study set aside for self-education purposes (eg heating, cooling and lighting during the time you are studying)
  • Stationery such as planner, highlighters, notebooks and pens
  • Phone calls
  • Computer consumables including printer cartridges
  • Trade, professional or academic journals
  • Decline in value of computer and other equipment (also called depreciation, and can apply to desk, chair, bookshelves and more)

Work from home tax deductions

If you’ve been supporting yourself by working while you study, don’t forget to also include your usual work expenses when it comes to your tax claims.

For some, this may have changed over the last year due to the pandemic which saw many people shift to working from home. The Australian Tax Office recognises the additional expense this can bring at home, such as using lighting, furniture, heating and more. Keep in mind, if your employer provided these things for you, you cannot claim.

To make it easy, the ATO has introduced the ‘shortcut method’ until June 30, 2021 to help you streamline your work from home tax deduction claims. This means employees working from home can claim 80 cents per hour for each hour worked from home during the current financial year.

Get it right at tax time

Getting it right at tax time is important, so if you’re not quite sure what you are eligible to claim it’s worth contacting a tax professional or visiting the ATO website for more information.

Make sure you are clear on what you might be able to claim to maximise your tax return for your individual circumstances.


The information above is general information only and does not constitute professional advice. Get in touch with the ATO or a tax professional to learn more about how this information applies to your individual circumstances.

Reconciliation Australia’s theme for 2021: More than a word, Reconciliation takes action.

The week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

The dates for National Reconciliation Week (NRW) are the same each year, they commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey, the 1967 Referendum and the High Court Mabo decision. NRW today is celebrated in workplaces, schools and early learning services, community organisations and groups and by individuals Australia-wide.

At Catalyst Education we have decided to share with you actions you can take during NRW that will play a part in contributing to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

We are proud to be developing our Reconciliation Action Plan as part of taking action.

Take part this National Reconciliation Week

There are various ways in which you WATCH, READ, DO, SEE, SUPPORT and DONATE this week to acknowledge National Reconciliation Week. We have provided information and links to sources below.

What you can WATCH

What you can READ

Our Home, Our Heartbeat by Yorta Yorta rapper, writer, presenter and actor Adam Briggs.

From the publisher: ‘Adapted from Briggs’ celebrated song ‘The Children Came Back’, Our Home, Our Heartbeat is a celebration of past and present Indigenous legends, as well as emerging generations, and at its heart honours the oldest continuous culture on earth.’

When The Snake Bites the Sun – as told by David Mowaljarlai and compiled by Pamela Lofts.

From the publisher: The illustrations are adapted from their paintings of the story. David Mowaljarlai said, “We want our children to see the daylight and the sun go down on our land, the home of the Dreamtime, and to live there to their old age and really understand their culture.”

Things to DO

Sydney: Different Colours One People Festival

Come and enjoy performances from talented local artists at this free music festival as part of National Reconciliation Week. Organised by Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson) in partnership with City of Sydney.

For more information click here

Queensland: Indigenous Art Program- walking tour

Join curators of the Indigenous Art Program to learn about artworks around Brisbane city. The tour will visit various sites located through the CBD across the hour and a half.

Victoria: NRW Virtual Screening: Wiks vs Queensland

Wik vs Queensland is a landmark feature documentary surrounding the historical court decision in 1996 by the High Court of Australia, granting native title to the Wik People of Cape York in Far North Queensland, and the demonisation that followed at the hands of politicians and media. Learn more here.

EXPERIENCE some of the following

NSW: Sorry Day Event – Aboriginal Support Group Manly, Warringah and Pittwater at Mona Vale Memorial Hall

Let’s come together for a day of healing and reconciliation to honour the Stolen Generations.

The afternoon will include Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies, dance performances by the Biala girls and weaving workshop, display of Aboriginal artefacts, Didgeridoo playing, Boomerang and shields. A shared experience with a talk “Why is it Sorry Day?” A reading from Aunty Nancy’s book of poems. BBQ and afternoon tea. Please come and join us.

QLD: Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre is the Gold Coast’s only dedicated Aboriginal cultural centre and is fully owned and operated by the local Aboriginal community.  ltural Centre is the Gold Coast’s only dedicated Aboriginal cultural centre and is fully owned and operated by the local Aboriginal community.

VIC: Sample something tasty

Take a deep dive into Indigenous flavours and native ingredients at some of Melbourne and Victoria’s finest restaurants.

Things you can SEE

QLD: State Library of QLD

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures and stories

State Library of Queensland collects, preserves and shares the documentary heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the State. Through consultation and collaboration, the State Library’s collections serve as a central point of access and programming, including exhibitions and showcases, family history workshops, language research, and contemporary storytelling

NSW: WARWAR: The Art of Torres Strait @Newcastle Art Gallery

Works of art never seen before outside of the Torres Strait are coming to the Newcastle Art Gallery in May as part of an exhibition focusing on the traditions of Torres Strait Islander culture. Learn more here.

VIC: Virtual event – NGV Kids at Home: Art Club with Jenna Le

Meet artists and designers online and explore the playful side of making art. In acknowledgement of Reconciliation Week, Jenna will demonstrate how to create a drawing of kindness and respect and transform it into a paper heart using a simple origami folding technique.

Things to SUPPORT

Raise the age

At Catalyst Education, we can all agree that children should be supported to reach their full potential.

Everyone knows that children do best when they are supported, nurtured and loved. But across Australia, children as young as 10 years of age can be arrested by police, charged with an offence, hauled before a court and locked away in youth prisons.

When children this young are forced through a criminal legal process at such a formative age, they can suffer immense harm – to their health, wellbeing and future.

Ten year old kids belong in schools and playgrounds, not placed in handcuffs, held in watchhouses or locked in prisons away from their families, community and culture. Governments can change this by raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years.”

Who is behind the #RaiseTheAge campaign? This campaign has been developed by a coalition of legal, medical and social justice organisations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community owned organisations. This group includes National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, Change the Record, Human Rights Law Centre, Law Council of Australia, Amnesty International Australia, Australian Medical Association, Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Public Health Association of Australia.

Trading Blak

Trading Blak is an organisation working toward empowering and show casing Indigenous owned and run businesses, as well as ending exploitation of First Nations Businesses in this space. Their work is self funded and self driven and you can support them by visiting their website.

Blak Business

Blak Business is a 100% aboriginal and owned platform and is working toward “Bringing together information, knowledge and resources to facilitate broader learning and discussion about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics”. Blak Business encourages people to learn, connect and support Blak artists and businesses.

‘Blak’ refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ‘Business’ means ‘an area of interest’ and therefore includes a range of topics including  significant dates, achievements, events, current affairs and more.

Blak Business was created with the aspiration that other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples view this space as a reliable source to reference and redirect people to.

Organisations to DONATE to

Uluru Statement from the Heart

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. It was issued to the Australian people in May 2017 following almost two years of work.

The Uluru Statement calls for structural reform including constitutional change. Structural reform means establishing a new relationship between First Nations and the Australian nation based on justice and self-determination where Indigenous cultures and peoples can flourish, and we all move forward.

The Uluru Statement calls for a First Nations Voice to Parliament and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling. These reforms are: Voice, Treaty, Truth. You can listen, read and donate to the Uluru Statement from the Heart by visiting their website.

Healing Foundation

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions like the forced removal of children from their families. Our work helps people create a different future by:

  • generating new research and resources to establish an evidence base for healing and best-practice strategies and build support for more effective policy and frameworks
  • building leadership and capacity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and
  • strengthening the healing workforce by providing training materials and support
  • conducting strategic communication with stakeholders about the impact of trauma and Intergenerational Trauma on Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants, and the importance of healing in addressing a wide range of health and social issues.”

For more information about how to take action this National Reconciliation Week, visit the official website here.


Having a highly skilled team for your workplace is essential. After all, your employees are the heart and soul of your organisation. The better their training, the better your business runs.

When it comes to providing your team with training opportunities, whether it’s to refresh their knowledge and ensure best practice, or to support them with upskilling, choosing a quality training provider is more important than you may realise.

Taking the time to make sure that your chosen training provider is offering the highest quality training for your sector can make all the difference to the outcomes for the individuals in your team, and in turn the outcomes for your organisation.

Highly skilled workers raise industry standards

To maintain, and ideally raise, a high standard of care in both the aged care sector and the early childhood education sector, quality training is essential.

The aged care sector is currently in the midst of an overhaul. The Royal Commission into Aged Care findings highlighted the need for a renewed focus on quality training across the sector. The recently-released recommendations that followed are set to result in the mandating of more training across the sector. The goal is that the aged care sector will employee a workforce of highly skilled, compassionate carers who are committed to and capable of delivering the very best care possible.

In early childhood education, exceptional training produces exceptional educators — vital to nurturing children through their most crucial period of development. Ongoing training for educators ensures early learning providers are delivering the highest standard of care for families. Quality training also contributes to a centre’s ability to meet the requirements set by the National Quality Framework and Early Years Learning Framework, which means a better chance of achieving a high NQS rating when it comes time to being assessed.

High quality training provider for high quality employees

When you commit to training from a high quality provider, you can be confident that you and your team will maximise the outcomes from your training. A high quality training institution ensures well-trained individuals and skilled workers for employers, achieved through a combination of crucial factors for an approach to training that is second to none.

First and foremost, learners must be supported. Whether it’s the first course they’ve undertaken or they’re experienced with vocational training, it’s important that learners who are undertaking studies feel they can reach out for assistance as needed. Support isn’t one size fits all — tailored support means that there is the right kind of help available for those who require it, from general coursework questions through to literacy and numeracy support.

For training to be high quality it should be designed with the real world in mind. Course material that is relevant and up-to-date to reflect current best practice in the sector is vital. Practical placements incorporated into the course ensure that those new to the sector, whether it’s aged care or early childhood education, are able to gain on-the-job experience through their training journey.

An effective training experience doesn’t just focus on practical skills — it marries them with human qualities and interpersonal skills. These ‘soft skills’ are transferable and valued greatly in aged care and early childhood education. Learners should be encouraged to reflect on and develop their ability in areas such as communication, empathy, patience and adaptability.

Ultimately, high quality training providers strive to develop job-ready graduates who enter or advance employment skilled and with confidence. For employers and organisations, this means a productive workforce that is capable of making sure your business shines.

Recognising high quality training for your sector

If you’re an employer looking to support your team in professional development, upskilling or any sort of training endeavours, it’s important to know how to tell a quality training provider from the rest.

There are a few elements that will help you identify a high quality training provider:

Quality providers should offer nationally accredited courses

Any training your team undertakes should be nationally accredited or nationally recognised. This means the courses meet established industry requirements as per the national regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). Ensure your team’s training is delivered by a Registered Training Organisation and that the course is meeting nationally approved quality standards.

Look for specialists in your sector

Some RTOs specialise while others provide courses in just about every sector. If you’re looking for the best of the best, an RTO that is a specialist in courses for your sector is more likely to deliver a higher standard of training. You want a training provider who knows your sector inside and out and can understand your organisation’s unique needs and desired outcomes.

Research their training outcomes

Consider what training outcomes the training provider emphasises. You want your employees to graduate with more than just a piece of paper. Qualifications should entail an individual graduating with practical skills, in depth industry knowledge, understanding and confidence. Is their training competency-based with sector-relevant outcomes to help your team and business flourish? Your desired outcomes and the RTO’s should be aligned.

The Catalyst difference: how we help employers and business

At Catalyst, our RTOs help individual learners to reach their career goals in aged care or in early childhood education. We also support organisations within the aged care sector and the early childhood education sector to reach their business goals and shape a productive, highly skilled, confident workforce.

We achieve this by committing to key factors that maximise outcomes and ensure we are a consistently high quality training provider:

Sector experts in aged care and early childhood education

We only provide training for two sectors: aged care and early childhood education. By limiting our course offering to these areas only we have been able to dedicate all of our time to understanding everything there is to know about aged care and early childhood education. Selmar, Royal College and Practical Outcomes, along with their trainers, are sector experts with a wealth of experience committed to these meaningful sectors.

Experienced trainers

Our trainers are sector-experienced, with their own career history working within the sector they now train in. They have stories to share from their journeys as well as the expertise required to deliver top tier support to learners.

Practical skills and theoretical learning

The value of training doesn’t only lie with one approach but the way the theory and practical education can be combined and applied. We ensure that our learners get support with both practical and theoretical training, and make the connections between the two to give their best when it comes time to learn on the job.

Strong relationships with employers

When we support organisations with training their team members, we make it a priority to get to know the business and its needs. Our team works with employers to find out what they want to accomplish and we create a training plan to make sure needs are met.

Flexible training delivery modes

Balancing life and work can be tricky, let alone when you throw studying into the mix. With flexibility, support and understanding, all Selmar, Royal College and Practical Outcomes learners are able to study while they work and gain a fulfilling training experience.

For quality training, choose Catalyst

If you’re ready to level up your workforce and see your organisation flourish, get in touch with the Catalyst RTOs: Selmar, Royal College or Practical Outcomes. We can work with you and your team members to help you achieve your goals in aged care or early childhood education.


Exciting announcement from Catalyst Education CEO, Jo Asquith and For Purpose Investment Partners Executive Director, Andrew Thorburn.  

WATCH: Catalyst Education’s exciting acquisition by For Purpose Investment Partners


Since 2013, Anacacia Capital has been the major shareholder of Catalyst Education. During that time and through our renowned Registered Training Organisations (RTOs)Selmar InstitutePractical Outcomes and Royal College of Healthcare, we have grown to become a leading provider in Australia, delivering our learner-centric training in key community services sectors, early childhood, aged care, and disability.

As we continue to grow our business into existing and new markets, focussed on supporting these vital sectors via our ethos of providing future-ready professionals who value care and compassion, we are in a very strong position.

Jo Asquith CEO of Catalyst Education has announced, “Due to the strength of our current position, and as a result of recent discussions with and subsequent due diligence work, on behalf of the Catalyst Education board and our senior leadership team, we are delighted to announce For Purpose Investment Partners have acquired Catalyst Education,” Ms Asquith said.

“As Catalyst Education embarks on developing and driving our social purpose as the cornerstone for all that we do, the For Purpose team provides incredible alignment. For Purpose, as a not-for-profit investment company, is committed to providing more than capital. They bring support in forming deep networks, mentoring and operational experience with embedded social impact objectives,” Ms Asquith added. 

For Purpose Investment Partners has an explicit focus on five social sectors of significant social need and where capital investment can create meaningful change outcomes in skills education, aged care, mental health, disability, social and affordable housing.

For our valued learners and clients of our courses, beyond our existing continuous improvement initiatives, they will not see any direct changes to their experience with us. With the support of For Purpose we will continue to provide and enhance the quality training, support and services you have come to expect from us.”

We will continue to strive to deliver on our visionfor a future where compassion thriveswhere people support each other to connect, belong and feel valued at every stage of their lives,” Ms Asquith explained. 

What will change is the ownership and the board to which Catalyst Education report.  

In anticipation of any additional questions our learners or clients may have regarding this change, we have created a short FAQ below. For further information learners can contact their trainer directly, clients can contact their relevant RTO representative.  

We are extremely excited with this announcement, have already built a fantastic working relationship with the For Purpose team, and are eager to start the next chapter in the Catalyst Education journey,” Ms Asquith concluded. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Who is For Purpose Investment Partners? 

For Purpose Investment Partners aims to be Australia’s leading, institutionally backed social impact investment manager.  Focused on large scale capital investment opportunities For Purpose provide appropriate risk-adjusted economic returns to investors and meaningful social returns to the broader community. 

For Purpose bring together expertise and networks from social and financial ecosystems into a single ‘For Purpose’ model, with an explicit focus on five social sectors of significant social need and where capital investment can create meaningful change outcomes: Skills Education, Aged Care, Mental Health, Disability and Social Affordable Housing.  

What does this mean for Catalyst Education’s RTOs? 

Our renowned RTOs Selmar Institute, Practical Outcomes and Royal College of Healthcare will continue to deliver the quality courses our learners and clients have come to expect from these three leading VET providers. Beyond our ongoing continuous improvement, with the support of For Purpose we will continue to provide and enhance the quality training, support and services you have come to expect from us.

I’m a learner, will my training or trainer change? 

Our training team and staff will remain the same. Your trainer and the learning experience you receive from us will remain the same. Our learner support services and extensive sector network will remain. 

I’m a centre/facility manager or clientWill how I work with you change? 

Our teams will remain the same, along with our training team and your current client representative contact. We will continue to work with you as we do today. And look forward to doing so. 

Will your contact details and location change? 

Our contact details and the contact details of our RTOs and staff will remain the same. Our head office will remain at Level 2, 80 Dorcas St Southbank, Victoria, 3006. 

Will you still deliver the same courses? 

All of our existing courses will continue to be delivered. 

What is the make up of the new board? 

You can see all our new board members and their bios on our Catalyst Education Website, our team page. 

Who can I contact if I have more questions? 

If you have more questions, learners please contact your trainer directly. Our valued clients can connect with their current representative contact 

Media outlets, please complete an enquiry below or contact Ryan Christie, Head of Marketing, Catalyst Education via 

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report summary contains significant and sweeping proposals for reform of the aged care sector.  

The government has responded to this by pledging $452million to support the implementation of what it sees as five key pillars for reformThis article summarises some of the key points from the summary of recommendations. 

The Australian aged care system

The Australian aged care system provides subsidised care and support to older people. It is a large and complex system that includes a range of programs and policies. It has evolved over time, including during the Commission’s inquiry. Some changes to the system have been far-reaching and others incremental, but all have contributed to the development of the aged care system. 

Changing demographics

Australia’s changing demographics significantly influence the demand for and provision of aged care. The aged care sector is facing an ageing population with increasing frailty. Australians are living longer than ever before. It is projected that the number of Australians aged 85 years and over will increase from 515,700 in 2018–19 (2.0% of the Australian population) to more than 1.5 million by 2058 (3.7% of the population).  

Older people are more likely to have more than one health condition (comorbidity) as their life expectancy increases. As the population of older people increases, more people are expected to have memory and mobility disorders. 

In 2019, there were 4.2 working age (15–64 years) people for every Australian aged 65 years or over. By 2058, this will have decreased to 3.1. This decline has implications not only for the financing of the aged care sector but also for the aged care workforce. There will be relatively fewer people of working age available to pay taxes to fund the aged care system and to meet the growing demand for services.  

1. Aged care services

These changing demographics, together with changes in the patterns of disease and dependency, and in the expectations of older people and society, will impact on demand for aged care in a number of ways. These include the length of stay in residential aged care, the increase in care needs, the demand for a variety of care choices, and the desire of older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Aged care is not a single service. It is provided over a range of programs and services. The care ranges from low-level support to more intensive services.  

Aged care is provided in people’s homes, in the community and in residential aged care settings. People commonly think of nursing homes, or residential care, when they think about aged care. However, while most of the aged care budget is spent on residential aged care, more than two-thirds of people using aged care services do so from home. 

The aged care system offers care under three main types of service: the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Home Care Packages, and residential care. 

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme is intended to provide entry-level services focused on supporting older people to maintain their health, independence and safety at home and in the community. 

Home Care Packages can, and often do, contain many of the same support services that are available under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, but they may be provided as a more structured and comprehensive bundle of services. They are delivered on a ‘consumer directed care’ basis. This means that people can choose the provider to deliver their services and can choose to change providers.  

In 2018–19, aged care services were delivered to around 1.3 million people. The most commonly used service in 2018–19 was the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (about 841,000 people), followed by residential aged care (about 243,000 people) and Home Care Packages (about 133,000 people).  

Aged care service categories

Home Care

A constant theme the Commission has heard throughout their inquiry is that people want to remain at home. For older people to remain safely in their homes, they must have access to aged care that meets their assessed needs.  

The care at home category should support older people living at home to preserve and restore capacity for independent and dignified living and prevent inappropriate admission to long-term residential care. Based on assessed needs, it should provide an entitlement to care at home with a personalised budget which allows for a coordinated and integrated range of care and supports. These could include: care management; living supports (for example, cleaning, preparation of meals, shopping, gardening and home maintenance); personal, clinical, enabling and therapeutic care; and palliative and end-of-life care. There should be a lead provider, chosen by the older person, who would be responsible for ensuring that services are delivered and adjusted in accordance to the older person’s changing needs.  

Residential Care 

Residential care must meet the full range of older people’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. It must provide care that preserves each person’s capacity for dignified living to the greatest extent possible in their circumstances, and enable each older person to have what they consider to be a good death. The residential aged care setting has changed over the years. People now enter residential services later in their lives. Consequently, many more are frail or have chronic or complex health conditions, including high levels of dementia. Currently, however, the delivery of care in residential aged care is influenced by the funding arrangements, which are aimed at tasks and not a person’s care needs 

The Commission recommends that the System Governor should implement a residential care category that provides high quality and safe care based on assessed needs. It should allow for personalised care and an integrated range of supports across these domains: care management; social supports; personal, clinical, enabling and therapeutic care and support; and palliative and end-of-life care. 

Reablement and rehabilitation need to be a central focus of aged care. The Commission recommends that care at home should include the allied health care that an older person needs to restore their physical and mental health to the highest level possible—and to maintain it at that level for as long as possible—to maximise their independence and autonomy 

Aged care providers and workforce

Aged care is one of Australia’s largest service industries. The most recent National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey found there were around 366,000 paid workers (84%) and 68,000 volunteers (16%) in the aged care sector in 2016. The data on the paid workforce excluded non-pay as you go workers—that is, agency, brokered and self-employed workers. During the relevant fortnight of the survey, about 28,000 non-pay as you go staff were engaged across the aged care sector. 

High quality care must be the foundation of aged care. There must be a universally shared understanding by government, providers, and by older people and their family and friends of what high quality aged care means in Australia.  

The Commission proposes the following definition: High quality aged care puts older people first. It assists older people to live a self-determined and meaningful life through expert clinical and personal care services and other support, provided in a safe and caring environment.  

High quality aged care is respectful, timely and responsive to older people’s preferences and needs and assists them to live a dignified life. High quality aged care is provided by caring and compassionate people who are educated and skilled in the care they provide.  

It enables older people to maintain their capacities for as long as possible, while supporting them when they experience functional decline or need end-of-life care.  

Systemic problems creating sub-standard care

The report has revealed the extensive sub-standard care exists, with at least 1 in 3 people accessing residential aged care and home care services—or over 30%—have experienced substandard care. 

The delivery of aged care in Australia is not intended to be cruel or uncaring. Many of the people and institutions in the aged care sector want to deliver the best possible care to older people, but are overwhelmed, underfunded or out of their depth. This is why significant change is required. 

Systemic problems are serious and recurrent issues that stem from problems inherent in the design and operation of the aged care system. They may be funding, policy, cultural or operational issues. These systemic problems are interconnected. None of them exist in isolation and they often have a compounding effect on the quality and accessibility of aged care. The systemic problems the Commission has identified include inadequate funding, variable provider governance and behaviour, absence of system leadership and governance, and poor access to health care. 

It should be easy for older people to access the aged care they need. Having easy access means a person can get the information, support or care they need, when they need it. It also includes getting aged care appropriate to a person’s individual needs, including care that is culturally appropriate and safe. 

Ineffective arrangements for older people to access aged care services mean that people may not know where to turn for help. They may have to make decisions which are difficult emotionally, financially and practically, without the benefit of accurate and timely information and support. In some cases, people do not receive the care they need, when they need it. 

2. Foundations of the new aged care system: A new Act, purpose and principles

Placing people at the centre of aged care

Much has been said during the inquiry about the need to ‘place people at the centre’ of aged care. To achieve this, the Commission is convinced that a new Act is needed as a foundation of a new aged care system. The new Act must focus on the safety, health and wellbeing of older people and put their needs and preferences first. It should provide an entitlement to the support and care each individual needs to prevent and delay the impairment of their capacity to live independently. 

Common themes for reform of  the aged care sector

Over the course of the inquiry, the Commission has identified clear common themes in what the community expects from the aged care system: dignity and respect, control and choice, the importance of relationships and connections to communities, and the desire for a good quality of life and ageing at home. 

A new Act: a rights-based approach

The Commission identified two paramount principles for the administration of the new Act: to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of people receiving aged care, and to put older people first so that their preferences and needs drive the delivery of care. The purpose and the guiding principles should be embedded and evident in every part of the system, from aged care policy development through to on-the-ground aged care service delivery. 

Governing for older individuals

Better system governance is crucial to the reform of aged care. Effective governance of the aged care system requires ongoing guidance and direction, steering the system towards long-term policy outcomes, monitoring performance, addressing emerging issues and holding players in the system accountable for performance. The overall objective of system governance must be to ensure that people receive safe and high quality aged care according to their needs. 

Ensuring safety and quality care

High quality care must be the foundation of aged care. There must be a universally shared understanding by government, providers, and by older people and their family and friends of what high quality aged care means in Australia.  

The Commission proposes the following definition: High quality aged care puts older people first. It assists older people to live a self-determined and meaningful life through expert clinical and personal care services and other support, provided in a safe and caring environment. High quality aged care is respectful, timely and responsive to older people’s preferences and needs and assists them to live a dignified life.  

High quality aged care is provided by caring and compassionate people who are educated and skilled in the care they provide. It enables older people to maintain their capacities for as long as possible, while supporting them when they experience functional decline or need end-of-life care. High quality aged care delivers a high quality of life. It enables people to engage in meaningful activities that provide purpose, and provides the opportunity for people to remain connected to their community.  

Currently, there is no clear statement in the Aged Care Act of the basic responsibility of approved providers to ensure that the care provided to residents is safe and of high quality. This is a major gap in the legislation.  

Areas for immediate attention

While the evidence before us has reflected a wide range of concerns about aged care quality and safety, the Commission hasingled out four concerns for immediate attention: 

  • food and nutrition 
  • dementia care 
  • the use of restrictive practices, and 
  • palliative care 

Many witnesses gave evidence about the inadequacy of the quality and quantity of food in residential care. This is an area in urgent need of improvement.  

A representative study of 60 Australian residential aged care services conducted in 2017 concluded that a staggering ‘68% of residents were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition’.1i Poor nutrition in aged care is related to falls, fractures, pressure injuries and unnecessary hospitalisation.  

As a critical first step, increased spending to improve the quality of food can be achieved as part of an immediate conditional increase in the Basic Daily Fee of $10 per resident per day the Commission recommends 

Dementia care

It is estimated that more than half of the people living in permanent residential aged care in 2019 had a diagnosis of one of the forms of dementia. The real percentage is likely higher, given the prevalence of undetected dementia. Despite this, the Commission’s inquiry has revealed that the quality of aged care that people living with dementia receive is, at times, abysmal. The Commission heard time and time again that staff members do not have the time or the skills to deliver the care that is needed. The quality of dementia care in the aged care system needs significant and immediate improvement. All mainstream aged care services should have the capacity to deliver high quality aged care for most people living with dementia—dementia care should be core business. This includes having the right number and mix of staff who are trained in dementia care, having the right physical environment (in residential care), and having the right model of care. The Commission recommendmandatory dementia training in residential aged care and in care at home. Ensuring people living with dementia receive the support and services that they need does not begin when they access aged care services.  

The overuse of restrictive practices in aged care is a major quality and safety issue. Restrictive practices impact the liberty and dignity of people receiving aged care. Urgent reforms are necessary to protect older people from unnecessary, and potentially harmful, physical and chemical restraints. Deficiencies in regulation of restrictive practices have been identified as a significant human rights issue in Australia. A strong and effective regulatory framework to control the use of restrictive practices should be implemented as a matter of priority.  

Palliative care

High quality palliative care is essential to ensuring that an older person can live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible as they approach death. Compassionate, respectful and individualised support for older people approaching the end of their lives is a necessary component of aged care services. 

A number of the Commission’s recommendations will contribute to ensuring high quality palliative care becomes core business for aged care services. These include a right to fair, equitable and non-discriminatory access to palliative and end-of-life care, improved access to specialist palliative care services and requirements for regular staff training. Urgent consideration should also be given to how palliative care is reflected in the Aged Care Quality Standards. 

Quality standards

Quality standards are a powerful tool to maintain and improve quality of aged care. They are statutory-based obligations of services, which identify the characteristics of aged care and the care environment that contribute positively to, or alternatively place at risk, the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of people receiving care. Such standards can motivate providers to achieve the expectations for quality. They also set the regulatory parameters for assessment of provider performance. 

The formulation of suitable quality standards is central to achieving and measuring high quality care. The existing Aged Care Quality Standards do not define quality, or high quality, aged care. By their nature, they set out the minimum acceptable standards for accreditation.  

3. An entitlement to care: a new aged care program

Older Australians should have an entitlement to aged care. Alongside Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the age pension, older Australians should be able to rely on the aged care program for support when and where they need it. 

Putting people first: simplicity, accessibility, choice and inclusion The Commission has heard of the challenges posed by the current multiplicity of programs and services in aged care, each with their particular eligibility criteria, assessment processes and budget allocations. The disparate aged care programs should be consolidated and simplified in a new aged care program.  

The Commission recommends a new aged care program aimed at achieving seven essential outcomes:  

  • Person-first—care and supports which address physical, social, psychological, cultural and spiritual needs, supporting people to function independently for as long as possible  
  • Simplicity—one aged care program, one set of eligibility criteria and one assessment process  
  • Accessibility—information that is easy to locate and understand with face-to-face supports  
  • Universal entitlement—once entitled to care, guaranteed access to the care and supports assessed as needed 
  • Choice of settings—in the home, community and residential care  
  • Timeliness—assessments and reassessments of need occur when required and services commence within one month of assessment  
  • Inclusiveness—recognition of a person’s diverse characteristics and delivery of culturally safe and trauma-informed care.  

Access to the new aged care program should be facilitated by better information, a single avenue of assessment and personalised assistance to gain services. Information about aged care services should be easy to understand, access and use. To ensure that people have a genuine entitlement to aged care, older people must be able to find and use the care and supports that they are assessed as needing.  

The Commission recommends that the System Governor should fund and support strategies to:  

  • Improve public awareness of the resources available to assist people to plan for ageing and potential aged care needs  
  • Improve knowledge about aged care among health professionals with whom older people have frequent contact, particularly general practitioners  
  • Encourage public discussion about, and consideration of, aged care needs. 

In response to the Royal Commission report, the Australian Government will immediately invest an additional $189.9 million for residential care providers to provide stability and maintain services while the Government considers the recommendations of the Royal Commission’s Final Report. 

4. A workforce to deliver quality care

A highly skilled, well rewarded and valued aged care workforce is vital to the success of any future aged care system. The Commission has heard about the dedication and passion of aged care workers. While many excellent people work in aged care, there are systemic workforce problems that must be addressed.  

In a large number of residential aged care facilities there are not enough workers to provide high quality, person-centred care. In many cases the mix of staff who provide aged care is not appropriately matched to the care needs of older people. 

The staff in aged care are poorly paid for their difficult and important work. The evidence is clear that the quality of care and the quality of jobs in aged care are inextricably linked. This points to the need for policies and practices to drive a ‘virtuous circle’, where good working conditions, supportive and visionary management, an empowering work culture, collaborative teams, relevant education and training, structured career progression, and job satisfaction among care workers underpin high quality, person-centred care. 

Strategic leadership and workforce planning

The number of older people in Australia will continue to grow significantly in the next 30 years, resulting in a substantial increase in people needing different types of aged care. This will have a big impact on the number of people necessary to deliver that care and the required size of the aged care workforce. 

Australia is likely to have an undersupply of aged care workers, and measures will need to be put in place to deal with it. A Summary of the Final Report Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics estimated that the number of direct care workers needed to maintain current staffing levels would be around 316,500 full-time equivalent by 2050, based on demographic trends and rates of use of aged care. This is a 70% increase—more than 130,000 additional workers—compared with the current baseline number of 186,100 full-time equivalent in 2020. The number will be significantly higher if the Commission’s recommended reforms are implemented. 

Building an aged care profession

The Australian Council of Professions defines a ‘profession’ as: a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others. 

The Australian Government, the aged care sector and unions must work together to professionalise the personal care workforce. This will require cultural change and improvements to education, training, wages and labour conditions for nurses and personal care workers. Aged care workers should have a clear vision for career progression, and importantly, clarity about what they need to do to progress. 

Training and education

The Commission is keen to ensure that all care workers, but particularly personal care workers, are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed for current and future aged care needs. Although significant numbers of personal care workers and home care workers hold a Certificate III qualification or equivalent, the Commission has heard about inconsistency in the quality, delivery and duration of the courses leading to that qualification. 

The Aged Care Services Industry Reference Committee has responsibility for developing training packages to ensure that industry skill requirements are reflected in the national training system. The Commission recommends that the Committee should review the need for specialist aged care Certificate III and IV courses. It should also regularly review the content of the Certificate III and IV courses to determine if any additional units of competency should be included in the core modules of the courses. 

As many as 70% of people in residential aged care could be living with dementia. The Commission have been told that many nurses and general practitioners do not have a full understanding of the symptoms and needs of people living with dementia. While this is presently of greater need in the residential aged care sector, over time it will become more important in home care. The Commission also heard that residential aged care staff tend to be under-skilled and under-educated in palliative care, and there is a lack of suitably qualified staff to manage palliative care adequately. 

High quality dementia and palliative care should be considered core business for aged care providers. The Australian Government should implement as a condition of approval of aged care providers that all workers who are involved in direct contact with people seeking or receiving services in the aged care system undertake regular training about dementia care and palliative care. 

Improving wages and pay

A wages gap exists between aged care workers and workers performing equivalent functions in the acute health sector. Successive governments have made several failed attempts to address that gap by providing additional funds to providers in the hope that they would be passed on to aged care workers by way of increased wages. They were not. 

Getting staffing right

There are many ingredients that enable the provision of high quality and safe aged care, but it cannot be achieved without having enough staff with the skills and time to care. 

Leadership and work culture  

Good leadership and culture provide a necessary foundation for workforce development and growth—to being an employer of choice. Leaders in aged care have a shared responsibility to help the sector emerge from what Professor Pollaers described as a state of ‘adolescence’. The Commission agrees with his observation that the sector’s leadership capability has not kept pace with the growing size and complexity of organisations within it.  

The challenge for strategic and operational leaders and managers within aged care organisations will be to lead their organisations through the reform process in the years to come with confidence. To support and drive the reforms the Commission envisage, consistent and confident leadership at all levels of aged care organisations is essential. While this is reinforced through strategies, policies, practices and behaviours, it begins with a genuine commitment to the core values and philosophies on which high quality and safe care are built. 

5. Good governance practice

Better system governance is crucial to the reform of aged care. Effective governance of the aged care system requires ongoing guidance and direction, steering the system towards long-term policy outcomes, monitoring performance, addressing emerging issues and holding players in the system accountable for performance. The overall objective of system governance must be to ensure that people receive safe and high quality aged care according to their needs. 

Contemporary good governance practice in Australia is to have, where possible, a majority of members on an organisation’s governing body who are independent of the organisation. An independent member of an organisation’s governing body is one who is free of any interests that might influence, or might reasonably be perceived to influence, their capacity to bring an independent judgment to issues and to act in the best interests of the organisation. 

Funding for the new aged care system

Public funding is critical to the aged care system. The Australian Government spent $19.9 billion on aged care payments in 2018–19, and $21.2 billion on aged care payments in 2019–20. Despite these large expenditures, the current system delivers services that are all too often substandard, and sometimes unsafe. In many instances, the current system fails to deliver services simply because there is not enough funding to meet the assessed need. 

In response to the Royal Commission Final Report, the Government will immediately invest $30.1 million to strengthen the governance of aged care providers and legislative governance obligations on the sector. 

Aged care and COVID-19: a special report

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest challenge Australia’s aged care sector has faced. Residents, their families and aged care staff have all suffered. The suffering has not been confined to those homes which have experienced outbreaks.

Thousands of residents in homes that have not suffered outbreaks have endured months of isolation which has had, and continues to have, a terrible effect on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Royal Commission also provided a special report which included six recommendations for the sector to address the detrimental issues being faced. From this, the government announced $132 million in November 2020 to be used for increased access to mental health and allied health support to aged care residents as well additional financial support to improve infection prevention and control workforce training for aged care facilities.

For more information, refer to the full Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Final Report here.