On 1 December 2022, the Serious Incident Response Scheme was extended from residential aged care to home care and flexible care delivered in a home or community setting.
This includes providers of Home Care Package, Short-Term Restorative Care at home, Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC), Multi-Purpose Services Program and Transition Care Program services.
For more information, go to the National aged care reforms page.
If you have a Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) enquiry, you can:
- Call us for free on 1800 081 549 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm seven days a week
- email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this page:
- SIRS resources
- What is the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS)?
- Why is the SIRS important?
- How does the SIRS work?
- How do I report an incident?
- Reporting timeframes
- The role of the Commission under the SIRS
- How the SIRS relates to other aged care requirements
This page details the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) for aged care providers.
For information on the SIRS for aged care consumers, visit the SIRS consumers page.
Visit our dedicated SIRS provider resources page.
What is the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS)?
The SIRS is an initiative to help prevent and reduce the risk and occurrence of incidents of abuse and neglect of older Australians receiving Commonwealth-subsidised aged care and services. It commenced in residential aged care on 1 April 2021 and was extended to home services on 1 December 2022.
The SIRS sets out arrangements for providers of aged care to manage and take reasonable action to prevent incidents with a focus on the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of consumers.
Why is the SIRS important?
Senior Australians have the right to feel safe and live dignified, self-determined lives free from exploitation, violence and abuse.
In addition, there are also specific rights and protections for consumers who are receiving Commonwealth-subsidised aged care services.
The SIRS helps to:
- strengthen aged care systems to reduce the risk of abuse and neglect
- build providers’ skills so they can better respond to serious incidents
- enable providers to review incident information to drive improvements in quality and safety
- reduce the likelihood of preventable incidents reoccurring
- ensure people receiving aged care have the support they need.
How does the SIRS work?
The SIRS has 2 key components:
- incident management responsibilities
- reportable incident obligations.
Incident management obligations
All aged care providers must have an effective incident management system (IMS) in place and use this to continuously improve the management and prevention of incidents. Incident management is integral to risk management, continuous improvement, and the delivery of safe and quality care to aged care consumers.
Visit our Incident management resources page for more information.
Reportable incident obligations
In addition to the IMS, aged care providers must notify the Commission when reportable incidents occur.
There are 8 types of reportable incidents involving aged care consumers that must be reported to the Commission. The incidents must also be reported to the police if the incident is of a criminal nature.
Reporting timeframes depend on the type of reportable incident, the level of injury and/or discomfort caused to the consumer and whether the incident is to be reported to the police.
The details of the reportable incident requirements vary depending on the aged care setting. Refer to our SIRS in residential aged care page or SIRS in home services page for more information.
How do I report an incident?
Reportable incidents must be lodged by providers using the SIRS Notice tile on the My Aged Care Service and Support portal.
Roles and responsibilities around submitting notifications need to be clear and understood. Providers must also ensure staff who are responsible for notifying reportable incidents to the Commission understand how to access and use the portal to submit reports on time.
For information on using the My Aged Care Service and Support portal visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website.
If a reportable incident occurs, or is alleged or suspected to have occurred, the provider must immediately act to protect the safety and wellbeing of those involved.
You must determine whether the incident is either Priority 1 or Priority 2 based on:
- the reportable incident type
- the injury and/or discomfort caused (or expected to have caused) to the consumer
- whether there are reasonable grounds to report the incident to the police.
The priority of the incident determines the timeframe of when the reportable incident must be reported to the Commission.
Priority 1 reportable incidents
Priority 1 reportable incidents must be reported to the Commission within 24 hours of the provider becoming aware of the incident.
A Priority 1 reportable incident is a reportable incident:
- that caused, or could reasonably have been expected to cause, a consumer physical or psychological injury and/or discomfort that requires medical or psychological treatment to resolve, or
- where there are reasonable grounds to report the incident to the police, or
- that is an unexpected death of a consumer, or
- where there is an unexplained absence of a consumer from the service, or
- involving unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual conduct.
Reporting to the police
You must report an incident to the police where there are reasonable grounds to do so. This includes scenarios where you are aware of facts or circumstances that lead to a belief that an incident is unlawful or considered to be of a criminal nature (for example sexual assault). These incidents must also be reported to police within 24 hours of becoming aware of the incident.
Reporting to police in relation to criminal conduct should occur regardless of whether the incident is alleged or suspected to have occurred.
If you are in any doubt about whether an incident is of a criminal nature, make a report to the police. Police are the appropriate authorities to investigate and identify whether an incident may involve criminal conduct.
Priority 2 reportable incidents
Priority 2 reportable incidents are those that do not meet the criteria for a Priority 1 reportable incident.
Providers must report Priority 2 reportable incidents to the Commission within 30 days of becoming aware of the incident.
The role of the Commission under the SIRS
The Commission receives reportable incident notices from aged care providers.
The Commission has the power to take regulatory action(s) where appropriate in dealing with SIRS notifications and to address non-compliance with provider responsibilities.
Where the Commission identifies evidence of non-compliance or information that may suggest non-compliance, the Commission may take compliance and enforcement action (see our compliance and enforcement policy).
Information notified through the SIRS and other sources gives the Commission valuable regulatory intelligence and data to enable the Commission to more effectively detect, analyse and respond to risks to consumers. Intelligence and data informs the Commission’s risk profiling of providers and the prioritisation and scope of monitoring activities. It also supports the development of sector education, campaigns and targeted regulatory approaches on particular issues.
We regularly publish information on the operation of the SIRS in our sector performance reports.
How the SIRS relates to other aged care requirements
The SIRS sits alongside, and complements, other legislative requirements that aged care providers must meet.
All providers must comply with the Aged Care Quality Standards which clearly outline the standards of care a person can expect as an aged care consumer.
- Organisational governance (Standard 8) requires approved providers to have in place effective risk management systems and practices that enable them (among other things) to manage high-impact risks associated with the care of consumers, and to identify and respond to abuse and neglect of consumers.
- Feedback and complaints (Standard 6) requires approved providers to demonstrate (among other things) that an open disclosure process is used when things go wrong in providing care for consumers.
A provider is also legally required to help consumers understand their rights under the Charter of Aged Care Rights.
Code of conduct
On 1 December 2022, a Code of Conduct for Aged Care (the Code) was introduced to improve the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life for people receiving aged care and to boost trust in services.
The Code aims to build confidence and trust in aged care, empower consumers and will bring a strong focus to a person’s right to receive safe and quality services.
The Code has been developed based on the existing National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Code of Conduct. The Code will set out standards of expected behaviours and applies equally to:
- approved aged care providers
- governing persons (e.g. board members and Chief Executive Officers)
- aged care workers who are:
- employed or otherwise engaged (including on a voluntary basis) by the provider
- employed or otherwise engaged (including on a voluntary basis) by a contractor or subcontractor of the provider to provide care or other services to consumers.
The Code will apply to approved providers of residential, home care and flexible care services. Flexible care includes the Transition Care Program, Multi-Purpose Services Program and Short-Term Restorative Care Program.
The Code will not apply to the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP).
Taken together, these requirements reinforce the importance of aged care providers having an effective incident management system in place to better protect the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of aged care consumers.
If you have an enquiry about the SIRS, you can:
- call us for free on 1800 081 549 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm (AEST) Monday to Friday or between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm (AEST) Saturday to Sunday
- email us at email@example.com.