Using the Guide to Aged Care Law

Welcome to the Guide to Aged Care Law. The Guide has been designed as a web publication (HTML). It is not available in a single electronic file or in paper format.

This is a new approach to the way the Department presents information to aged care stakeholders. The Department consequently would like to receive feedback on the Guide from its users including, but not limited to:

  • the presentation of content,
  • functionality of the Guide, and
  • further enhancements you may like to see made to the Guide.

Such feedback will help the Department to refine the Guide in order to make it a more effective and user friendly resource for aged care stakeholders.

If you would like to provide the Department with feedback please visit the DSS - Feedback - Compliments, Complaints and Enquiries webpage.

Note: The Department is proud of this initiative but would like to acknowledge that there are areas within the Guide that will require further updates. The Department apologises for any inconvenience this may cause. The Guide will be updated regularly to clarify or reflect changes in legislation, legislative interpretation and/or policy application.

It is also important to note that the Guide is in no way intended to be a legal document. Should you require specific legal interpretation about the application of any part of the legislation, we advise referring, in the first instance, to the Aged Care Act 1997, its Principles and/or seek independent legal advice.

As part of the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Act 2014, the building certification requirements in the Aged Care Act 1997 were repealed. This amendment to the Aged Care Act commenced on 17 October 2014. The Guide is in the process of being updated to reflect these changes.


Commonwealth subsidised aged care provides a range of support services for older people who are unable to live independently in their own homes. Commonwealth support for aged care reflects the following objectives, set out in the Aged Care Act:

  • promoting high quality care and accommodation,
  • protecting the health and well-being of care recipients,
  • helping recipients of aged care enjoy the same rights as all other people in Australia,
  • ensuring that aged care is accessible and affordable for people who require it,
  • planning effectively for the delivery of aged care services,
  • ensuring that aged care services and funding are targeted towards people and areas with the greatest need,
  • encouraging services that are diverse, flexible and responsive to individual needs,
  • providing funding that takes account of the quality, type and level of care,
  • providing respite for families and others who care for older people, and
  • promoting 'ageing in place' - that is, helping older people stay where they want to live, by linking care and support services.

Commonwealth subsidised aged care is governed by the Aged Care Act, the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997, the Aged Care (Accommodation Payment Security) Act 2006, and the Aged Care (Accommodation Payment Security) Levy Act 2006. This legislation is administered by DSS. These Acts are supported by a number of legislative instruments made under the Aged Care Act and the Transitional Provisions Act. In addition the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency Act 2013 sets out the functions of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.

The legislation allows the Commonwealth Government to:

  • give financial support to aged care providers through the payment of subsidies and grants for the provision of aged care,
  • stipulate the approvals and decisions that must be made before the Commonwealth can pay subsidies to providers,
  • regulate the fees and payments Commonwealth subsidised providers of aged care can charge, and
  • specify the responsibilities providers of Commonwealth subsidised aged care have to care recipients.

The legislation covers a number of types of aged care including residential care, home care and flexible care (Multi-Purpose Services, Innovative Care and Transition Care).

What does the Guide cover?

The Guide is divided into 7 parts as explained in the following table:

Part Name What is Covered
1 Key Terms & Definitions This part contains key terms used throughout this Guide and some Guide specific definitions.
2 Approved Providers This part contains information for approved providers.
3 Flexible Care This part contains information on flexible care.
4 Home Care This part contains information on home care.
5 Residential Care This part contains information on residential care.
6 Grants This part provides information regarding grants.
7 Administration of Aged Care Legislation This part covers information that will help to understand how aged care legislation is administered.

Finding information

The following features are provided to assist in finding relevant information:

  • Search - type your search term (words or phrases) in the search box at the top of the page. The Advanced search on the results page allows a search to be limited to a specific Guide or Guides.
  • Site map - gives an overall picture of the structure of the Guide to Aged Care Law.
  • Act Reference Index - provides a list of sections in the aged care legislation referenced in the Guide.

The Guide has a number of links incorporated at various levels, including Act references - links to relevant law on the Federal Register of Legislation website (see tip sheet for assistance navigating to a referenced section).

Last reviewed: 9 February 2015