2018 aged care approvals round (ACAR)

The Department of Health has released a Question and Answer Guide in anticipation of the upcoming Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR). The following is a summary of some of the pertinent points.

There will be an ACAR announced soon. The application period is open for six weeks and the Department will take around eight months to assess applications. There will be:

  • 13,500 residential aged care places nationally
  • 775 STRC places
  • $60 million in capital grants

Previous ACAR

The 2016-17 ACAR was the most competitive on record with providers applying for a total of 45,053 places. There was an allocation of 9,911 new residential aged care places, 475 STRC and $64 million in capital grant funding.

Ideal contributed to the success of close to 15% of all places allocated in the 2016-17 ACAR.


The number of new places made available for allocation will be influenced by:

  • the aged care provision ratio
  • population projections, and
  • current levels of service provision, including newly allocated places not yet operational

The primary consideration of the assessment and recommendation processes is to ensure, where possible, that residential care and STRC places are allocated in areas of highest need.

Places and grants are allocated to those who best demonstrate they can meet the aged care needs of a geographic location.


Evidence is key. Providers need to demonstrate an understanding of how need is currently being addressed.

Applicants should consider factors such as location and proximity to other services. Are there any established links with other aged services in the area? Will the proposal help the community by filling a known service gap? Does it target any Special Needs Groups or Key Issue not already catered for and will the proposed service provide innovative building design, service delivery and experience for potential care recipients and their families?

A competitive application

Areas of high need will likely be prioritised over applications in areas that are well stocked. Factors such as location, level of need, Special Needs Group and Key Issues are important. Well supplied locations may not be considered competitive against other applications.

Other elements to consider

An important factor is how quickly a Provider can operationalise places. Consider timing for:

  • identifying and securing land
  • securing financing approval for any development
  • building and development approvals from the relevant authorities
  • consideration of zoning, heritage and environment factors
  • potential building delays
  • staff recruitment

The provisional allocation period for making places operational is currently four years and will not be extended beyond six years from the date of allocation, unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying the granting of a further extension.

Your capacity and experience

An applicant’s capacity to undertake the various elements of a service development or redevelopment are considered during the assessment process.

The department takes into account:

  • the financial information provided
  • the proposed timeframes
  • how many other applications the applicant is likely to have approved
  • the number of other proposals approved in previous ACARs
  • the applicant’s progress in operationalising previously allocated places
  • the number of offline places
  • current occupancy levels

Your past allocations

Providers that have received multiple places in recent ACARs should consider their capacity to undertake all existing works prior to undertaking future business planning for any additional proposals in the next ACAR.

The department will consider the number of unused or ‘offline’ places in determining if an additional allocation of places will be made through a future ACAR.

What you should do

Carefully consider the relative need of particular locations as the department must allocate places in a manner which best meets the needs of the aged care community, therefore the current levels of supply in specific locations should be a key consideration before preparing an ACAR application.

A thorough market analysis will provide you with plenty of information to assist you.

Finally, we cannot highlight this enough for providers undertaking an ACAR application. Read the ACAR Essential Guide and then refer back to the guidance on each question, as you complete your application. At Ideal we typically spend the first few days reading and digesting the Essential Guide before embarking on responding to the questions.


If you would like to discuss how to approach your ACAR application please contact or Fiona Somerville or Louise Greene via  hello@theidealgroup.com.au  or 1300 179 675.