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In Australia, the aged care system offers a range of care options to meet the different care needs of each individual. Two mainstream care options are available for older people: residential aged care and community-based aged care.

Often people first enter the aged care system through community-based care, before eventually progressing to permanent residential care. Respite care in a residential aged care facility can also be a step along the way to permanent care.

Residential aged care provides care within a supported accommodation setting for those whose care needs can no longer be met within their own homes. There are two types of care offered in residential aged care facilities:

  • Permanent care offers ongoing care in a residential aged care facility, tailored to an individual's needs. While permanent care was previously offered at two levels—low and high care—this distinction was removed from 1 July 2014.
  • Respite care offers temporary, short-term care in a residential aged care facility to support both older people and their carers to live at home for as long as possible. Unlike permanent care, respite care continues to be offered as either low care or high care.

From 2015, two main programs deliver community-based care for older Australians:

  • The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) commenced on 1 July 2015. It consolidated four existing programs and provides entry-level support services for older people who need some assistance with daily living in order to live independently at home. In Victoria and Western Australia, these services continue to be offered through the joint Commonwealth-state funded Home and Community Care (HACC) Program.
  • The Home Care Packages Programme provides more complex, coordinated and personalised care at home, and offers four levels of care packages to progressively support people with basic, low, intermediate and high care needs. From 1 July 2015, consumer-directed care applied to all packages.

In addition to these mainstream options, there are several flexible care programs which provide care for special groups or circumstances in mixed settings. These include the Transition Care Program, the Multi-Purpose Services Program and the Veteran's Home Care Program. More information on these programs is available from Aged care in Australia.

However, caring for older people and people with disability in the community often depends on the availability of informal carers to take on a caring role. These are unpaid carers (family, friends, or neighbours) who have assumed responsibility for another's physical, emotional, or developmental wellbeing.

Aged care in Australia



of the Australian population aged 65 and over, or 270,559 people, were in residential aged care at some point over the 2013–14 financial year.



of the Australian population aged 65 and over, or 83,481 people, received home care at some point over the 2013–14 financial year.



Government-subsidised operational places were available in Australian aged care at 30 June 2014, a 3.5% increase from the previous year.


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people in permanent residential aged care at 30 June 2014 (69%) were women. The average age for women was 85.8, compared to 81.6 for men.

More detailed information about Australia's aged care system can be found in the AIHW's annual web reports on aged care:

My Aged Care 

My Aged Care is the Australian Government's online gateway to access Australian Government-funded aged care. My Aged Care provides information on the cost and accessibility of aged care, the services and providers available, and how to navigate the aged care system.

Need more information? 

If you have a specific requirement for data or statistics not covered by any of our reports or online data, you can request customised aged care data from the National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse (NACDC), a central, independent repository of national aged care data based at the AIHW. NACDC's data holdings cover programs delivered to older Australians both in the community and in a residential care setting.