The Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) helps prevent and reduce the risk and occurrence of incidents of abuse and neglect of people receiving aged care. It applies to those receiving Commonwealth-subsidised aged care and services.
The SIRS started in residential aged care on 1 April 2021.
It extended to home care and flexible care delivered in a home or community setting on 1 December 2022.
This includes providers of:
- Home Care Packages (HCP)
- Short-Term Restorative Care at home
- Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC)
- Multi-Purpose Services Programs
- Transition Care Program services.
The SIRS sets out arrangements for managing incidents and taking reasonable action to prevent them. It focuses on the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of people receiving aged care.
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.
Key components of the SIRS
Incident management obligations
Incident management is vital to the delivery of safe and quality aged care.
All aged care providers must have an effective incident management system (IMS) in place. They must use this to continuously improve how they manage and prevent incidents.
As a worker, you must know your obligation to report all incidents to the appropriate staff member. This ensures the recording of incidents in the IMS.
Various resources are available to help aged care workers understand the SIRS. They include:
Online learning modules
- Incident management under the SIRS
- Reportable incidents under the SIRS
- Early lessons learned from SIRS in home services
Visit our Incident management resources page for more information.
Reportable incident obligations
Aged care providers must notify us when reportable incidents occur.
There are 8 types of reportable incidents that providers must report to us.
If an incident is of a criminal nature, it must also be reported to the police.
Reporting timeframes depend on:
- the type of reportable incident
- the level of injury and/or discomfort to the person in care
- whether the incident is to be reported to the police.
The reportable incident requirements will depend on the aged care setting. For more information, visit our SIRS in residential and home services page.
The incident priority determines the timeframe of when the reportable incident must be reported to us.
Priority 1 reportable incidents
Priority 1 reportable incidents must be reported to us 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
Providers must report an incident to the police where there are reasonable grounds to do so. This includes scenarios where the provider is aware of facts or circumstances that lead to a belief that an incident is unlawful or considered to be of a criminal nature. An example is 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 there's any doubt about whether an incident is of a criminal nature, providers should 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 don't meet the criteria for a Priority 1 reportable incident.
Providers must report Priority 2 reportable incidents to us within 30 days of becoming aware of the incident.
How to report an incident
Your provider can lodge reportable incidents by logging into the My Aged Care Service and Support portal and selecting the SIRS Notice tile.
Staff responsible for notifying reportable incidents must understand how to access and use the My Aged Care Service and Support portal. For information about the portal, visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website.
If you have a SIRS enquiry, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.