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Budget lays the Foundation for Aged Care Workforce Reform

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The Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (the Council) welcomes the key investments relating to the aged care workforce announced in the Federal Budget last night, demonstrating a commitment to reform in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Louise O’Neill, CEO of the Council said the breadth of initiatives across a range of areas promises to build a quality pipeline of workers for the aged care sector and to better support them once they are in the roles.

“The budget announcement made by the Treasurer last night is strongly aligned with the implantation of the aged care workforce strategy A Matter of Care, demonstrating its relevance today, more than ever before,” she said.

“The Final Report of the Royal Commission has also shown that having a workforce with the right skills mix and attributes is essential to delivering the person-centred, quality care that older Australians and the community expects.”

Ms O’Neill said that while there was strength in the initiatives announced, the Council was disappointed to see that there were no firm commitments by the Government to lift wages and modernise the industrial relations framework to better reflect the shift towards more individualised models of care.

“The low pay and conditions are significant downsides of working in aged care,” she said.

“This is particularly true for the personal care workforce, who provide the majority of care for older Australians, and nurses who in general earn 10-15% less than their colleagues in the public, private and allied health care system.

“We firmly believes we need to show how, as a society, we truly value the workers who provide the care for our older Australians.”

To guide and sequence the diversity of these reforms the Council is eager for a transparent plan to support aged care workforce reform into the future and is looking forward to the Government’s official response to the royal Commission at the end of May.

Ms O’Neill believes the success of any reforms to the aged care sector is contingent upon a clear pathway to grow, upskill and better remunerate the aged care workforce.

“Without a plan, this package lacks the coherence to make a substantial impact to support quality outcomes for older Australians and the workers that deliver their care support over coming decades,” she said.

“Projections show that the size of the aged care workforce needs to triple by 2050. To meet this demand, it is imperative that we attract the right people to work in the aged care sector – these are not jobs that just anyone can do.

“The Council is committed to creating a better, more sustainable aged care system across Australia with a
clear focus on building the capacity of the aged care workforce. We must support and value aged care
workers to deliver the care that older people, their families and carers expect.”

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