Graduate Diploma of Aged Care

Graduate Diploma of Aged Care

Duration: 1 year full-time / 2 years part-time
Intake: February and July
Delivery: Online
Credit points: 48
Available to: Domestic
IELTS: 6.5
AQF: Level 8
Financial Information: $20,000 FEE-HELP available for domestic students

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The Graduate Diploma of Aged Care builds on the Graduate Certificate in Aged Care. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (2021) Report highlighted three important messages. These were the need to develop the aged care workforce capabilities; a stronger governance and leadership within the sector; and the importance of a rights based aged care sector. This course has been designed to meet the needs of the aged care sector as identified by the Royal Commission.

The course utilises a Christian framework that is also inclusive and respectful of other faiths. This allows students to learn about working with service users and their families, ensuring their rights are heard and ethically practised. This course has been designed to provide a comprehensive learning experience and flexibility to study online whilst continuing to work.

The Graduate Diploma of Aged Care provides students with the academic knowledge and skills to work effectively in leadership and management roles within aged care. Students wanting to further develop and upskill in both residential and community-based agencies, or who are transitioning into these roles, will benefit from this course. There are plenty of work opportunities within this sector, particularly as nearly 20 per cent of the population is expected to be aged over 65 by 2031. This is an increase of approximately 16 per cent.

This requires an understanding of a range of services provided by government, non-government, religious, cultural, and charity sectors to older people and their carers. Students will be introduced to an array of services and resources to expand their knowledge base and gain an understanding of the aged care sector within community and residential settings.


This unit will enable students to appreciate the practical journey of acquiring aged care support and services. Through this process it is aimed that students will be empowered to assist patients/clients to effectively know what is available, and to share information. This unit has been designed to integrate practical and theoretical awareness of the aged care system within Australia.


Students will consider the special needs of elderly people in accessing services, recognising the diversity of the older population. Consumer directive care will be examined and its impact upon practice. This form of care underpins service delivery where older people can choose their service provider and make decisions on the type of care received. However, before making that choice an assessment process is required to determine the level of care needed.

This unit aims to contribute knowledge of contemporary and evolving legal and ethical issues relevant to the lives of elderly people. Students will be introduced to a range of ethical and legal issues where responsibilities, principles, and obligations will be outlined to fulfil competent professional practice within aged care. Legal issues and the acquisition of information, resources, and support services will be highlighted throughout this unit. Practice and policy are interwoven, and the implications of policies present and proposed will be critically examined.


Topics within the ethics section of this unit will include ethical awareness, ethical values, code of ethics, ethical conflicts, end of life ethics, and ethics with technology such as robotic care. Appreciation of the scope of ethical issues will be explored.


Specific legal issues within the aged care context will be addressed to determine their impact upon service delivery and care planning. Key legal issues such as consent, capacity, decision-making, duty of care, dignity of risk, mandatory reporting, safeguarding elderly people, estate planning, and advance directives will be introduced to understand best practice.

This unit’s foundation is to support meaningful emotional connection with elderly people with dementia. Central to this focus is dispelling myths and stereotypes, and instead focusing on person-centred care. Both practical and theoretical approaches will be explored in aiming to contribute to enhancing dementia care within the community and residential settings.


An awareness and understanding of the dementia process to elderly people, their carers/significant others, and to health professionals within the aged care workforce will be addressed. Students will examine and critique dementia care, which is being provided to elderly people in Australia and internationally. This includes making a difference to service delivery through design.


A major focus within this unit is to provide students with the opportunities to enhance skill development, reflection, and promotion of a range of interventions that will contribute to quality service provision within dementia care. Dementia prevention and public health policy will also be examined to illustrate the modified risk factors and their potential effect in reducing an individual’s risk of dementia.

This unit examines six diverse groups of elderly people, emphasising individuality, shared experience, and promoting respect through valuing people’s diverse needs. Specific needs will be highlighted related to entering and navigating the aged care system. The Royal Commission on Aged Care (March 2021) reported that First Nations elderly people, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) elderly people, homeless elderly people, LGBT elderly people, rural elderly people, and veterans were disadvantaged within the Australian aged care system and advocated for structural change.


Students will consider the implications and special needs of elderly people from these diverse groups in accessing services, as well as critically examine the availability of formal and informal services. The central premise of this unit is to encourage students to reflect on service provision and to explore alternative service development by adopting a rightsbased approach. Integral to the rights -based approach is the provision of opportunities to enable elderly people from diverse groups to express their views, attitudes, and perceptions of what they want, and the barriers encountered whilst engaging with aged care providers. Proactive service delivery and interventions will be addressed throughout this unit to facilitate inclusive practice.

This unit introduces the use of spiritually sensitive practice as an enriching mode of interaction with elderly people. Spiritually sensitive practice is an approach that values elderly people’s responses, acknowledging their worth, and facilitates connection. Meaningful conversations with elderly people are fostered by encouraging a compassionate person-orientated approach. Students will develop an understanding of the importance of utilising such an approach in a range of settings, for example within the community, and/or residential care. Knowledge and awareness of spirituality will be developed to enhance a deep understanding of the role spirituality can play, for example within assessments in healthcare.


Different expressions of spirituality will be explored within a contextual framework within which elderly people live and die. The unit’s focus will explore diversity by encouraging students to reflect on beliefs and asking pertinent existential questions on meaning in life. Respect of others’ belief systems will be promoted, raising the awareness of how nurturing a spiritual identity can assist and transform practice.

This unit examines the biological, psychological, social, and critical gerontological theories that have provided theoretical knowledge guiding aged care practice. A range of theories will be explored from their development to their current impact upon older people within community and residential aged care. Students will be encouraged to evaluate theories and understand the dynamic interplay of systemic issues associated with these theories.


Delivery of aged care has been shaped not just by theories, but also by their interpretation within a socio-cultural context. Theories need to be critically examined to underpin progressive practice and facilitate theory building.


There is considerable diversity with the ageing population, and this has fostered the theoretical development of transdisciplinary theories. A range of theories will be highlighted throughout this unit, illustrating the interwoven nature of theory and practice. This unit provides students with a spectrum of knowledge on the value of theories and how they are applied to current service models within aged care.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety final report (2021) championed 148 recommendations envisioning a new aged care system. This unit focuses on some of the major recommendations for action and highlights a vision for the future of aged care in Australia. Throughout this unit students are encouraged to critically examine the current aged care system by acknowledging moving beyond the status quo to aged care reform. This unit is designed to encourage students to facilitate change through exploring their own practice within aged care. Policies and practices will be appraised in reshaping aged care and their impact upon older people. The critical value of aged care standards, role of an independent regulator, dynamics of the aged care workforce, and funding for a new care system will be discussed to facilitate high quality aged care.

This unit reviews and critically analyses the development of theories on loss, grief and grieving and their application to older people and their carers. Students are actively encouraged to explore a range of theories to promote understanding of best practice. Different forms of grief and their possible impact upon older people and their carers will be discussed to enhance students’ awareness of practice implications.


Interventions and empowering approaches have been outlined, challenging assumptions about grief and bereavement. Knowledge will be developed about the range of support services, and the acknowledgment of the value of rituals, funeral practices, and the use of spiritually sensitive practice.


End of life care will be critically examined to facilitate students’ understanding of the complexity of issues which may arise in caring for older people who are dying. End of life care practices and their implications will be discussed including palliative care, and recent legislation changes for voluntary assisted dying.


Students will be encouraged to reflect on barriers and enablers to self-care to assist guarding against burn out/ compassion fatigue. Compassionate caring will be addressed as an integral component when working with older people and their carers experiencing loss, grief, end of life issues, and dying.

Educational Prerequisites 

Applicants may be admitted to the Graduate Certificate in Aged Care or the Graduate Diploma of Aged Care if they have previously successfully completed a relevant:

• bachelor degree or

• bachelor honours degree.

‘Relevant’ means a degree that includes subjects in human services, psychology, social work and education. ‘Non-relevant’ means degrees that are science based (not including psychology), where you have not human services-related subjects.

Applicants with non-relevant degrees will be considered on the basis of their work and life experience.


Applicants with Work and Life Experience

Applicants without undergraduate qualifications can apply for admission via the work and life experience pathway which may consider other forms of study completed in the higher educational sector and vocational sectors. These include volunteer activities with older people,  participation in religious communities supporting older people, church contributions, and professional development relevant to human services and aged care. 


For more information refer to the Student Selection and Admissions Policy and Procedure.

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