Last updated 31 October 2022

The approved provider of a government-funded facility must report certain types of incident of assault or the suspicion of certain types of assaults to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission under the Serious Incident Report Scheme and to police if considered necessary. They must also keep records of these incidents.

There are eight such incidents:

  • unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual conduct with a resident of an aged care facility whether perpetrated by a staff member, resident or visitor on a resident. This could include sexual threats against a resident, stalking or sexual activities without the resident’s consent
  • unreasonable use of force whether perpetrated by a staff member, resident or visitor on a resident. This could include hitting, shoving, pushing or rough handling
  • neglect of a resident which could include withholding personal care, untreated wounds, or insufficient assistance during meals
  • psychological or emotional abuse which could include yelling, name calling, ignoring a resident, threatening gestures or refusing services as a means of punishment
  • unexpected death where reasonable steps were not taken by the provider to prevent the death, the death is the result of care or services provided or a failure to do so
  • stealing or financial coercion by a staff member including a staff member coerces a resident to change their Will to the staff members advantage or steals valuables from the resident
  • inappropriate use of restrictive practices where the practices are used without the consent of the resident or without notifying the resident’s representative as soon as possible, or using them in a non-emergency situation or using a drug to influence the resident’s behaviour
  • unexplained absence from care where the resident is absent from the facility without explanation and there are reasonable grounds to report it to the police.

Where an incident occurs, the provider must classify it as either a Priority 1 or Priority 2 based upon the type of incident, the impact on the resident and whether there are reasonable grounds to report it to police.

Priority 1 incidents are those that have caused or reasonably have been expected to cause, a resident psychological or physical injury or discomfort that requires medical attention, where there are reasonable grounds to contact police or where there is an unexpected death of a resident or their unexplained absence. Priority 1 incidents must be reported to the commission within 24 hours of the provider becoming aware of it and to police, if considered necessary.

Priority 2 incidents must be reported to the commission within 30 days of the provider becoming aware of it.

All approved providers must encourage staff to report alleged or suspected reportable assaults, and the provider must act to protect staff members from any victimisation or recriminations.

An approved provider has discretion not to report a reportable assault by a resident when the resident has already been diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness such as dementia and they have put in place, and documented, arrangements to manage the resident’s behaviour.

Approved providers are also required to ensure that all staff, including those provided by employment agencies and some volunteers undergo regular police checks and hold a national police certificate as to their suitability to work in aged care.